Society of Saint Dismas
Buliding a Bridge With Youth Through Group Efforts PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Tuesday, 04 October 2011 08:00

Public Defender: Vision for Excellence Students Interact With Bridges Of America

Chaplain Robert Brown and The Jacksonville Bridge Work Release Center Staff coordinated and facilitated the following event.

                                               Building a Bridge With Youth Through Group Efforts

Five participants in The Bridges of America work release program joined several Duval County Public School children and their parents at the Office of Public Defender Matt Shirk to discuss some of the life-altering consequences people endure following incarceration. The program, spearheaded by The Florida Star Newspaper, was a follow-up session from the successful Public Defender:Vision for Excellence youth summer program. VFE was a four-week,educational and motivational summer camp for forty 10-14 young men from Jacksonville’s urban neighborhoods. The idea for the interactive session was to provide therapy for the transitioning offenders as well as life lessons for the students. The event took place on August 24, 2011 at the Office of the Public Defender in Downtown Jacksonville. Bono’s BBQ catered the dinner.Several of the Vision for Excellence presenters from the summer program were on hand to participate in the interaction and provide character building messages to both the Bridges attendees and the young people. Presenters included Sen. Tony Hill, Rep. Reggie Fullwood, Soil and Water Conservation District 5 Commissioner Chelsi PHenry, Greg Williams representing the Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club, Assistant Public Defender Melina Buncome and Katy A. Harris and Assistant State Attorney Octavious Holiday who coordinated the Vision mock trial event and several others.G’ Abrams of The Florida Star Newspaper and liaison to the Bridges of America program organized group interaction and discussion in an effort to bring different perspectives to both the students and offenders. Many of the presenters participated in the discussion as well. The group helped the Bridges participants to better understand their missteps while the students were privy to these life lessons.

For more information click on the links below.

Introducing Thomas Beckner, Ph.D, PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Tuesday, 20 September 2011 10:26

Thomas Beckner, Ph.D.
Director of Chaplaincy Services and Program Development

We have a new member in the Society of St. Dismas Department. Dr. Thomas Beckner was recently appointed as Director of Chaplaincy Services and Program Development.  His initial role will be to assist our chaplains by creating and implementing new policies and procedures that will bring a quality management approach to our Chaplaincy Department as we continue to grow and venture into more opportunities. Dr. Beckner has just completed a book entitled Correctional Chaplains: Keepers of The Cloak based on his twenty-five years of experience with chaplaincy.  Let’s welcome Dr. Thomas Beckner.     

Connecting with the Community PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Friday, 26 August 2011 15:15


On Thursday, August 25, 2011, Reverend Scott Davidson was invited to the City’s Emergency Operations Center by the City of Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer for the Mayor’s Council of Clergy meeting.  The Mayor’s Council of Clergy is an inter-faith council that facilitates two way communication between the City of Orlando and our faith community.

There was meaningful dialogue about mutual community goals and identifying ways to continue to support each other and build a stronger community.  Mayor Buddy Dyer gave an update on the City’s projects and initiatives such as:

  • The Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center that is currently under construction.
  • SunRail has been approved and the 36-month construction project will be operational in 2014.
  • The Amway Arena Demolition Project that will begin in the fall before December 15th.

The Mayor also stated that the City of Orlando is in the best financial shape of any major city in the nation.

There has been a reduction in violent crimes by 40% in the City of Orlando and an 80% reduction in the Parramore area.

There were presentations by Harbor House which provides support and assistance to person’s suffering from Domestic Violence.  They provide housing, crisis outreach and prevention services in their community.  Their website is

A presentation was given by Grace Medical Home.  They provide medical services to low-income and uninsured persons.  Their website is

The presentations were followed by a tour and explanation of the Orlando Emergency Operations Center.  This is where all of the emergency calls such as 911 (Police and Fire Department)are received.  They coordinate the Traffic Management and Emergency Weather services such as hurricanes and tornadoes.

Reverend Scott Davidson spent some time speaking to Mayor Buddy Dyer about how Bridges of America, Christian Prison Ministries and the Society of St. Dismas can work together to better assist prisoners as they re-enter into the City of Orlando for the benefit of public safety.

The Orlando Bridge Re-Entry Fair PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Monday, 29 August 2011 11:15

Article By: Scott Davidson, Diana Gonzalez

The Society of St. Dismas Chaplaincy Department hosted the first Orlando Bridge Re-Entry Fair on August 17, 2011 at the Cathedral of St. Dismas. 

There were twenty-three Community Resource Providers that attended the event and presented services such as: housing, employment, education, recovery groups, financial and banking services, faith based ministries, family support services and health care assistance. 

The Community Resource Partners that attended were: Workforce of Central Florida, Salvation Army, Orlando DMV, Center for Goodwill Industries, Drug Free Living, BB & T, Wells Fargo, Hope N Help Center Well Care, Family Support & Visitation Center, Orange Family Counseling, Open Homes Regeneration, Next Step, Toast Masters, Teen Challenge, Westside Tech, Coalition For The Homeless, Clear Vapor, Orlando County Health Department, Central Florida Center For Independent Living, Pact Of Faith, Lakeside Alternatives, Valencia Community College.

Each of the four hundred residents from the Orlando Bridge Work Release, Transition Center and Treatment Center had an opportunity to meet each provider in order to understand the support of the various services that are provided in our community.

The event was an enormous success for the Orlando Bridge residents, the Community Resource Providers, and for the Staff.  There were many residents that shook my hand and that said, “Thank you the fair really helped me.”

The Community Resource Providers stated that “they enjoyed the event and couldn’t believe that so many of our clients attended.”  The Staff and Community Partners also enjoyed a wonderful lunch provided by Chef Mike Schnitzer and the TOB Culinary Department.

The Chaplaincy Department will be hosting the Orland Bridge Re-Entry Fair bi-annually.

Thank you to all who worked so hard to make this a success.  We look forward to our next fair in six months.


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