Rock County resource fair helping former prisoners adjust
JANESVILLE Tyler Bloyer thought he went to the Rock County Job Center looking for a full-time job Thursday afternoon.
What he found instead was help for an alcohol addiction that has landed him in jail four times in his young life.
Bloyer, 21, Beloit, was released from jail Wednesday afternoon. He said a light came on in his head after a judge threatened to put him away for a year.
“Every time I get in trouble, it’s because of the alcohol,” he said. “Without the rehab, I won’t be able to keep a job.”
Bloyer was one of dozens who attended the third annual resource fair for former inmates organized by the Rock County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council.
The fair brings together groups that offer former inmates help with employment, education, housing, banking and rehabilitation.
Tom Gubbin, probation and parole supervisor, said this year’s fair had the biggest turnout so far. After the first hour, more than 73 people walked in, and more continued to show up.
Gubbin said he thinks the event has grown through word of mouth and coverage in the media. This was the first year the event was advertised on the radio.
Rock County outpatient survey worker Vickie Dansbury said the fair not only helps former inmates, it brings together area aid organizations that normally would not interact.
“It is something that is truly needed and vital for our community,” Dansbury said.
The fair has accumulated success stories.
Bill Schyvinck, who works for Projects for Assistance in the Transition of Homelessness, said he has seen first hand how the fair helps people.
“We had a lot of people who were homeless, and we helped them find homes,” Schyvinck said. “It’s a wonderful feeling standing in an apartment with someone when they first get the keys.”
For Darrel Vance, 38, the fair was about finding a job to help support himself and his 15-year-old daughter.
“I have a kid, now, and it’s not cheap,” Vance said with laugh.
Vance, who has been in trouble over drugs and burglary, heard about the fair through his parole agent. He said finding a job would help keep him focused and out of trouble.
Vance has a job interview today and signed up for a state Department of Corrections program that helps former inmates find jobs and offers subsidies to employers who hire them.
Bloyer might have found help in Billy Bob Grahn.
Grahn is the founder of The Red Road House, which provides safe housing for adults struggling with alcohol and other substance abuse.
The Red Road House has been at the fair every year and has seen several success stories.
Grahn said he talked with Bloyer and told him even though the house is full he is invited over at any time for coffee and conversation.
“I told (the staff) that he is part of the family, now, and to let him in anytime,” Grahn said. “It’s worth it for me if we can affect just one person and make a difference, and today that was him.”