Rotary saves halfway house

The Rotary Club of Grand Cayman responded quickly to find emergency funding so the Bridge Foundation could keep open its doors to a halfway house. 

At a brief ceremony held at Anchor House, the Foundation’s headquarters in West Bay, Rotary Club of Grand Cayman Director Renee Edwards presented co-founders Bud Volinsky and Charles Jennings with a cheque for $5,000 to cover immediate operating costs.  

Mr. Volinsky said an anonymous donor has agreed to match Rotary’s support, giving the Foundation emergency funds of $10,000 with which to operate for at least the next three months. 

The Bridge Foundation is a nonprofit, non-denominational organisation dedicated to helping recovering drug addicts and alcoholics through their transition from prison, or treatment, to community life. The Foundation’s halfway house provides a haven for individuals to gradually work their way back to a purposeful life. Rules are clear and applied across the board: applicants must undergo addiction treatment, participate in a counselling programme, have a sincere desire to pursue a clean lifestyle and be committed to abiding by the Foundation’s residence rules and guidelines. A maximum stay is for six months, and the Foundation provides accommodation for up to six male residents at any one time. 

“Too many inmates leave Northward only to return to where they committed crime in the first place,” said Mr. Volinsky. “We are trying to break that cycle and put them on a path to a healthy, constructive, non-offending lifestyle. One of the most effective ways to reduce crime in Cayman is to address recidivism; and the best way to do that is to provide the means by which the temptation to re-offend is reduced. There are no such means here better than halfway house facilities like Anchor House. We encourage community living and residents taking responsibility for their actions.” 

He said not one graduate of the Anchor House programme has re-offended. A letter from the chair of the Parole Board states that the “organisation’s commitment and dedication to improving the quality of life all those more often disenfranchised is most commendable”. 

On 25 September, Sebastien Guilbard, president of the Rotary Club of Grand Cayman, attended the graduation ceremony of the Drug Court with Mr. Volinsky. He witnessed firsthand the importance of the Bridge Foundation when one of the graduates thanked Mr. Volinsky and the Bridge Foundation for assisting with his job placement and keeping him on the right track.  

Mr. Jennings said, “to meet the increasing demands of the prison, the courts and society, and to offer a professionally run halfway house facility, we have to be confident of the barest minimum assured funding. It costs as little as $1,700 per month to keep the halfway house operation going. That sum meets rent and utilities and we are very proud that with our help our residents have all found work and can therefore provide food and other essentials for themselves. With a present complement of six residents, we cost about $285 per resident per month, or $3,420 per resident per year. Compared with approximately $60,000 per Northward inmate per year, in economic terms alone the argument for getting those former offenders who are a danger to neither themselves nor others back into the community through a halfway house programme, speaks for itself.”  

Mrs. Edwards said Rotary recognises the need for awareness of the Foundation’s work and longer term funding and support from those who can assist. 

 

Inquiries to assist the Foundation may be directed to [email protected] 

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From left, Bud Volinski, co-founder of the Anchor House; Renee Edwards, director of the Rotary Club of Grand Cayman; and Sebastien Guilbard, president, Rotary Club of Grand Cayman. Rotary helped save the halfway house in West Bay. – Photo: Submitted

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