Justiceworks’ John Klismet Volunteer Award
The John Klismet Justiceworks Award honors the efforts of a justice system volunteer who closely emulates the character of the late John Klismet’s service to the Portage County justice system and community. As a retired Sentry insurance executive, John Klismet dedicated his volunteer efforts to ensuring a better way of life for others through justice programs. He mentored troubled juveniles and served on many Justiceworks committees with the goal of improving the justice system by promoting alternative forms of justice and a more responsive justice system. Because of his many contributions to justice and the courts, the annual “John Klismet Justiceworks Award” honors service which reflects his character, integrity and public commitment, in which he embodied Mohandas Gandhi’s quote: “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”
2005- John Klismet- posthumous award
Described as a public servant, a guardian, and a visionary, John Klismet had a long history of community involvement. Through the Retired Senior Volunteer Program, he worked in the Juvenile Detention Center, Ben Franklin Junior High’s at-risk program and the Charles Fernandez Alternative Center’s project area. He then became involved with jail problems and the courts. He served on numerous committees and task forces to improve those institutions, including the Justice Coalition and Justiceworks. Convinced that any young person could turn their life around with enough direction, encouragement and knowledge, John confronted self-destructive attitudes and behaviors and complimented positive efforts. He continually sought better ways to convince young people they could live law-abiding, productive and satisfying lives. For 7 years he visited the detention center regularly to meet with groups or to sit down with a youth who had requested a meeting. At the Alternative Center, John and his students built relationships as well as projects. Students often returned to continue their work with him after graduation.
2006- Jim Anderson
2007- Arlene Mucha
Ordained minister Arlene Mucha has offered hope, faith and support throughout thirty years of service to jail inmates. As a justice system volunteer, Arlene Mucha ministered to inmates in a variety of jail settings, including Cook County Jail in Chicago, Joliet Prison, the Kane County Jail, the Dwight and Dixon Correctional Institutions, and for the past decade, the Portage County Jail. Arlene provides spiritual guidance and inspiration to inmates through conversation and worship, weekly prayer meetings and holiday services.
2008- Christine Jacobs
Since her infant son’s death over thirty years ago because of a drunk driver, Christine has worked tirelessly to make others aware of the dangers of drinking and driving. With Christine’s support and participation, victim-impact panels are presented on a quarterly basis each year in Portage County to give victims the opportunity to inform OWI offenders of the tragic ramifications of their actions due to personal injuries, fatalities, emotional and financial damage from drunk driving traffic incidences.
2009- J.R. Wynne
J.R. Wynne overcame alcohol addiction to become a justice system leader in Portage County. He has helped community members identify and carry out successful responses to the problems of drug and alcohol addiction. He was instrumental in organizing an alternative housing initiative in Portage County called the Riverside House. The Riverside House operates under the Oxford House model and provides a democratically run, self-sustaining residence for men in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. Since the Riverside House opened its doors in 2005, JR has continued to serve as mentor and advisor to the Riverside House residents on a weekly basis. Wynne has also served on the Portage County Health and Human Services Board, the Portage County Family Support Program Advisory Board, the Portage County Alcohol and Drug Abuse Coalition and works as a Director of the Boys and Girls Club of Portage County. Recently, J.R. Wynne assisted Wood County residents in organizing and opening an Oxford- recovery house in Wisconsin Rapids.
2010- Charles Fernandez
Charles Fernandez grew up in the United States as a Mexican immigrant, hampered by frequent childhood moves and inability to speak and read the English language. His understanding of youth with diverse cultural and social backgrounds led him to become an effective advocate for children and minorities in the justice system. His volunteer work reflects his personal philosophy to “leave no child behind”. He championed the need for community volunteer mentors for juveniles; now a mainstay programming component of the Portage County Juvenile Center. In addition, Mr. Fernandez has been a leading advocate for alternative educational programming which eventually led to the formation of the alternative high school in Stevens Point, the Charles F. Fernandez Center for Alternative Learning. He has mentored many troubled youth, served as interpreter for the Hispanic community in the medical and legal systems, and continues, at the age of 87, to volunteer and advocate for youth programs in Portage County.
Over the span of his career as an attorney, Maurice Rice gave free legal assistance to those in need and obtained funding to support pro bono services in Portage County through his work with the Portage County Legal Aid Society. In addition to his volunteer work as president and past board member of the Portage County Legal Aid Society, Maury has also served as an elected official and board member for the Wisconsin Disability Rights organization and is a current member of the United States Power Squadron, a non-profit boating education organization.
2012 – Patti Cahill
- Photo provided courtesy of the Stevens Point Journal
Patti Cahill has been active in justice-related community initiatives since 2004 when she joined PRISM, a jail ministry non-profit organization, and Justiceworks, Ltd., a community justice non-profit organization. Patti was the driving force behind the opening of a drug and alcohol-free residence, the Riverside House, in Stevens Point. The Riverside House is an Oxford House for men operating under the umbrella of the Oxford House national organization. Following Patti’s example, an Oxford House for men opened in Wisconsin Rapids and an Oxford House for women opened in Stevens Point. Patti continues to actively support the Riverside House, is involved with community mentoring programs, and serves as a board member of the St. Michael’s Foundation.
2013 – Roseann Debot
Justiceworks is pleased to announce Roseann Debot as the recipient of the Klismet Justiceworks Award for 2013. Roseann has been active in justice related community initiatives through her work as director of Operation Bootstrap, Portage County’s food pantry and community resource referral center. Roseann has worked as director for almost 40 years without financial compensation. Roseann believes in the importance of providing community support for successful reintegration of ex-offenders into the community, which is the objective of the Justiceworks TEAM program.
2014 – Bob Quam
Bob Quam of the Salvation Army was selected to receive the Klismet Justiceworks Award in recognition of his leadership and guidance for the Salvation Army and maintaining it as a place of hope for many who have no hope left. Bob has worked tirelessly to provide a shelter for men, women and families and provide them with tools needed to resume an active and productive life, and helping individuals obtain the necessary resources to overcome the obtacles to their self-sufficiency.
2015 – Bill McCulley
Bill’s involvement with the non-profit jail ministry organization Prism impacted the development of the TEAM Program, the Oxford Houses, the 2617 Club and Shifting Gears, among others. Bill provided years of support to jail inmates through his association with Prism – an organization he helped to create. He worked on it’s board for many years and was almost solely responsible for the creation of a social worker position on the jail. Bill served as a member of the Justiceworks Voting Membership since it’s inception and, when employed by Health and Human Services he made amazing efforts to bring mental health and substance abuse focus to law enforcement and corrections. Whenever someone in the jail was having mental health issues, they were on the phone with Bill and he responded. There were few people in governmental and civic life who didn’t welcome his good natured smile and his diligence in responding the difficult issues.
2016 – Kurt Helminiak – posthumous award
Kurt Helminiak personified the mission of Justiceworks before those words were set down in writing and long before Justiceworks came into existence, first as a police officer for the Stevens Point Police Department and then as the Director of Offender Services with Justiceworks. When give the opportunity, Kurt took charge of the Volunteers in Probation Program and molded a program that not only represented the mission of creating right relationships in the community, but also became the standard by which the State of Wisconsin Department of Corrections seeks to create in the Community Residential Program. Kurt continued that lifelong work through his involvement with all of the programs associated with Justiceworks, including his work stabilizing the Shifting Gears Community Bike Shop and creating opportunities to secure right relationships within the community by offering employment and job skill opportunities to those seeking to improve their overall well-being.
2017 – Tiffani Krueger
Tiffani Krueger was a founding member of the non-profit Evergreen Community Initiatives in 2010 and currently serves as Committee Chair. For the past seven years, Tiffani and many, many volunteers erve the community through endeavors such as The Place of Peace, Food Fill Up, Movies in the Park, Smile for Christ’s Sake, Tiff’s Kids Closet, Tree Huggers and the Stevens Point Warming Center.