11 honored for their service to the community, despite past mistakes

Project: Operation Change sponsored the "Still I Rise" dinner

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – About 70 people gathered at the Wesley United Methodist Church in Springfield to celebrate former jail and prison inmates who’ve overcome the stigma of incarceration.

Project: Operation Change, sponsored the “Still I Rise” community recognition dinner. The goal of the organization is to remove the stigma associated with being incarcerated, and they plan to do just that by bringing the community together to recognize these honorees.

“Still I Rise” recognized formerly incarcerated people for their outstanding work in the community, despite their past mistakes.

Honoree Wilhamenia Allen told 22News, while going thru a 12-step program, she received support and wants to help others now. “My passion is to help women, in general,” said Allen. “Someone was there for me at one time, so I like to extend my hand to others in the community.”

The event recognized 11 people for their outstanding leadership in the community.

Springfield City Councilor Adam Gomez delivered the keynote address and told the audience he’s just like them; “I want to tell them that people make mistakes, but it doesn’t matter what your past is, it’s not going to be what your future is and the outcome you want it to be.”

Gomez encouraged award recipients to continue striving for success.

Project: Operation Change is a new organization with a goal of updating the policies of the Massachusetts parole system.

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