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Goodwill Central Coast Awarded Grant From Santa Cruz County to Help Underserved With Training and Transitioning to Full Employment

Shelby MasonGoodwill Central Coast has been awarded a substantial grant from Santa Cruz County to help in its efforts to find employment for individuals who have identified mental health and/or substance use disorder after they leave the criminal justice system.

Shelby Mason, Director of Workforce Development Services of Goodwill Central Coast in Santa Cruz County, was informed by the Santa Cruz County Probation Department that Goodwill was awarded the $400,000, 2.5-year grant that would fund a position at Goodwill that would help those individuals in employment training and transitioning to full employment.

“It’s very exciting. It’s going to have a pretty big impact,” said Mason, who has been working with Goodwill employment re-entry programs since she joined Goodwill of Silicon Valley in 2013. “I was excited (to hear of the grant) because working with re-entry is my passion. It’s so rewarding to see success happening every day.”

According to the Santa Cruz County Probation Department, the focus of the grant for the CAFES (Coordinated Access for Empowering Success) program “is on those with first-time and low-level offenses who have traditionally been underserved and who don’t qualify under other programs and initiatives. CAFES will include diversion opportunities; restorative justice engagement; clinical assessment and access to mental health and substance use disorder treatment; assertive case management; housing and stability support; and coordinated staff training for evidence-based practice.”

CAFES includes a Court Case Manager to provide coordination and support for collaborative court participants (Behavioral Health Court, Veterans Court, PACT Court, Re-entry Court). Mason and her staff will work under the day-to-day direction of the Collaborative Court Manager.

Mason said Sara Jamison of the Probation Department knew of her re-entry work with AB109 and Prop 47 at Goodwill, so when the grant opportunity came up, she informed Mason of the grant and encouraged her to apply for it.

The grant is coming at an opportune time for Goodwill, because of the coronavirus pandemic, operations have been disrupted and positions have been lost. Mason said the grant is a “foot in the door” to help keep re-entry services alive.

Ironically, it was Goodwill that put Mason on her career path and into work that was rewarding for her.

“It’s funny because all through college I couldn’t decide what I wanted to do for my career,” she said. “It was hard for me to find a job and career in 2013. And the interview I had with Goodwill was the hardest I had ever been in. I got to a point where I told the interviewer, ‘Listen, I just need an opportunity.’ I ended up getting the job and helped develop and design the New Opportunity Work Program, a subsidized work program for folks returning from jail or prison. Thanks to Goodwill and someone giving me a chance, I found my passion.”

Mason was Director of Re-Entry Programs at Goodwill of Silicon Valley from 2013 until 2018 before moving to a similar position with Goodwill Central Coast. A resident of Monterey, where she lives with her partner Katelyn and two children, Mason is from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but grew up in the San Jose area.

She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and Spanish from Clarion University of Pennsylvania, and just received her MBA from CSU Monterey Bay this summer.