While spending time in the Flagler County Inmate Facility, inmates are given educational opportunities meant to make them more employable when they’re released.
The latest of these is the chance for inmates to earn their food handler certificate while volunteering in the prison’s kitchen and taking classes with Jose Rivera, a food service manager with Trinity Services, the company that provides inmate meals.
Two inmates, Oleh Dubrovskyy and Justin Hunt, were the first to complete this program, and now will be eligible to prepare food in restaurants when released from the facility.
“I’m trying to behave myself, trying to change my life,” said Dubrovskyy, who was arrested for probation violation. “This will benefit me in the future. Hopefully when I get out, I can stay out of this place for good.”
Dubrovskyy was recommended for the program after spending five months working as a volunteer doing everything from working in the kitchen to buffing floors. Now, he serves breakfast and lunch to inmates every day.
“These two men will be coming out of the jail with a marketable skill," said Sheriff Donald Fleming in a statement. "Restaurant employers will not have to wait for them to get their certification — they can start right away. We have given them an opportunity to improve their futures while serving their time.”
Dubrovskyy and Hunt completed seven chapters of instruction by Rivera, taking quizzes after the end of each chapter. After completing the whole course, both men took and passed a test.
The certificates expire in three years, but they may be renewed. Both Dubrovskyy and Hunt are expected to be released within six months.
“Working makes time go faster,” he said. “It gets me out and doing something with my time.”
And now, Dubrovskyy is thinking of his future. He’s awaiting sentencing, and if he gets out of prison with no record, he hopes to join the Marine Corps. He might work in the kitchen, he said, and that would help him get an education.
“This program is meant to rehabilitate inmates,” said Debra Johnson, spokeswoman for the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office. “Instead of getting out and not knowing what to do, he can go get a job.”
The jail hopes to forge relationships with local restaurants to find employment for recently released convicts.
This programs is one of five others offered by the jail. Inmates also have the opportunity to participate in Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, parenting classes, domestic violence prevention classes and GED classes offered in partnership with the Flagler County School District.
For Dubrovskyy, who has volunteered since he was incarcerated Jan. 20, working in the kitchen is a second chance.
“He’s a good kid,” said Cpl. Manuel Sa. “He helps me out, and I help him out.”
And although the programs are offered to all inmates, they’re never forced.
“If I wanted to quit, I would have quit a long time ago,” Dubrovskyy said. “I like my job; I like having responsibilities.”
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