The Pacific Reentry Career Services Story
Pacific Reentry Career Services was founded by Stephanie Hammerwold and Timothy Pershing with the goal of reducing recidivism by helping the formerly incarcerated gain employment and therefore maintain a stable life outside of jail or prison. Pacific Reentry Career Services is based in Orange County, California and is fiscally sponsored by OneOC, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Our organization is entirely volunteer.
Stephanie and Tim have a combined background that includes work in nonprofits, advocacy for women and at-risk populations, education and human resources. Stephanie has hired hundreds of people in the course of her HR career and realized the importance of not automatically rejecting job candidates with a criminal history. She also saw the value in working with entry-level employees to develop career plans to help them move up. Tim brings years of experience working in nonprofits and a dedication to supporting at-risk populations. After running an HR consulting business for several years, Stephanie and Tim started to get involved in the Orange County reentry community and decided to found Pacific Reentry Career Services--an organization that combines their nonprofit experience with an insider understanding of the employment process and developing employees.
Our Approach to Employment for the Formerly Incarcerated
The National Institute of Corrections (NIC) has created the Employer-Driven Model (EDM), which outlines strategies for developing employment opportunities for the formerly incarcerated. Pacific Reentry Career Services uses this model as the foundation for our practices. We use a three-prong approach that includes direct client services, inter-agency networking and employer outreach. This ensures that all pieces of the employment puzzle are in place for our clients.
Prong 1: Direct Client Services
Direct client services prepare job seekers by providing:
- Job search training through skills assessments, seminars, one-on-one coaching and workshops
- Ongoing follow-up and guidance throughout the job search process
- Mentorship from community business owners and professionals
Job search training encompasses a variety of tools our clients will need to successfully navigate the employment landscape. The first step is an interview to determine employment goals and to assess skills. The client then participates in a resume/application workshop, interview preparation, is assigned a mentor and a meets with staff for a follow up. We also work closely with each client throughout the job search process to ensure they are supported in their journey while mentors provide another important layer of support. To learn more about how you can become a Pacific Reentry Career Services client, visit our Become a Client page.
Prong 2: Inter-Agency Networking
PRCS networks with the existing agencies that provide complementary services to our client base such as the members of the Orange County Re-Entry Partnership (OCREP). Networking with other agencies provides our clients with a wide array of services that they may not otherwise be aware exist. Coordinating with other agencies to provide basic services such as proper business attire, health care, childcare and transportation ensures that our clients have the resources necessary to feel confident during their job search.
Prong 3: Employer Outreach & Education
One of the more challenging aspects to the Pacific Reentry Career Services mission is finding and educating employers about the benefits of hiring the formerly incarcerated. The stigma that the formerly incarcerated carry of being difficult, dangerous or dishonest employees is not a fair assessment of their ability to become productive members of the workforce. Many employers overlook these women as unemployable based on nothing more than their criminal record. Our job is to educate employers on how to assess each individual situation and not generalize the experiences and circumstances of our clients. The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) will be a significant tool used in the mission of Pacific Reentry Career Services. Educating potential employers about the tax benefits of hiring ex-offenders will be another way for our clients to be seen as valuable employees. If you are an employer interested in learning more about employing the formerly incarcerated, visit our Get Involved page.
About the Founders
Stephanie Hammerwold, MA
Executive Director & Founder
Stephanie has over ten years of experience working in human resources and received a Master's Degree in Women's Studies from San Diego State University. Prior to her career in HR, Stephanie worked at a domestic violence shelter where she ran a weekly art and writing workshop for residents. She later ran similar workshops for women in the Santa Cruz County Jail as part of a volunteer program that brought art and writing to incarcerated women. Before founding Pacific Reentry Career Services, Stephanie worked with Tim to provide HR consulting to small businesses in California. She currently works in HR at a tech startup in Irvine, CA. You can read more about her HR work on her blog, HR Hammer.
Tim Pershing, JD
Before co-founding Pacific Reentry Career Services with Stephanie, Tim worked as a licensed teacher in a Title I school, a research and publications specialist for a DOJ non-profit, Child Care Director for South Coast YMCA and with Wynne Law specializing in legal research. Tim also served as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for two years, interned at the Gonzaga Legal Clinic and has volunteered his time for numerous organizations over the past twenty years. He is also a board member for the Aliso Viejo Chamber of Commerce and serves as their Social Media and Marketing Chair. Tim is a graduate of California Lutheran University, Sierra Nevada College and Gonzaga Law School.