A Story of Accomplishment – By Cassandra Kuhr

BTI President, Doug Dalton presenting Cassandra Kuhr her diploma

Adults in custody (AIC) at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility (CCCF) have an opportunity to learn a new trade skill for jobs post-incarceration.

The Department of Corrections (DOC) recently received a three-year grant through the Bureau of Justice Assistance Second Chance Act. This grant allows DOC to offer an industry recognized certification program through Baker Technical Institute (BTI) for AICs to become Heavy Equipment Operators. The new program uses simulation technology to train women at the correctional facility to use heavy construction machinery.

The AICs will also be trained on First Aid and CPR, Flagger Certification, and Forklift Certification. Wraparound services are also included, such as resume writing, job search assistance, and connections to WorkSource Oregon.

Cassandra Kuhr is one of the adults in custody that graduated from the program, and she has graciously shared her story.

“I have been incarcerated at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility for the last five years. During this time, I have tried and worked very hard at learning self-discipline and taking advantage of as many programs as possible. The DOC has offered me many program accomplishments such as successfully obtaining my GED and learning to work as a plumber. I worked as a plumber through the Coffee Creek Physical Plant for three years where I learned many trades, in addition to responsibility, dependability, teamwork, and time management.

All of these things led to this September, where I learned about a program that was going to be offered by the DOC and Baker Technical Institute. Which would allow me to become certified in operating heavy equipment such as a loader, dozer, grader, and excavator. Within this training I was also able to successfully obtain my Traffic Control/Flagger certification through Oregon Department of Transportation, my CPR/First aide/AED certifications through the American Heart Association, and finally my forklift operation and safety certification through Baker Technical Institute.

Initially all of my fears and insecurities set in, it was such an amazing opportunity with such limited space available. The application process was fierce to say the least as there was over 100 applicants and only 12 positions available. Instead of allowing my fears to get the best of me, I chose to believe in my abilities and apply. Believe it or not I GOT IN, and it was one of the best experiences of my entire life. All of the DOC staff here at Coffee Creek that I spoke with as well as the Baker Institute staff were so encouraging.

During this five-week course I’ve grown so much, and I’ve gained so much knowledge and experience to help better my future upon my release from Coffee Creek Correctional Facility. The instructors at BTI were very helpful, encouraging, and came prepared with many years of hands-on experience. Once I release, I will utilize this opportunity I was given and obtain a respectable career that I can be proud of.

I want to thank all the staff at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility and all the staff with Baker Technical Institute for helping me gain these skills that I need to succeed and reach my full potential.”

Cassandra Kuhr