Life does not always turn out the way we expect it to. Sometimes, that turns out to be a good thing. PACT employee, Amesha McDonald, planted roots in a town she never meant to stay in and now has a beautiful home and family here. The job she never thought she would have allows her to give second chances to people whose lives have taken the wrong route.
Amesha began working for PACT (Prisoner and Community Together Inc) 21 years ago.
“What I’m doing now is definitely not what I thought I would be doing,” Amesha says. “I started and I fell in love. The ability to serve the community and to attempt to make an impact where people can live better, more fulfilling lives… what a blessing that is.”
Amesha moved here from Chicago to attend Valparaiso University’s social work program. Before PACT, she worked for a group home through Opportunity Enterprises, called Sheffield Group Home. She learned skills from both that would transfer to her career.
“I thought it would be so different,” she said, of working for PACT. “But [both are] a challenge of establishing intrinsic motivation to change and then doing the work to change. You meet a person where they are at in their life and you have to be patient, and communicate. That concept has been in every job I’ve had.”
Amesha expected her job to stay clerical, even when she started working for PACT. She was hired to teach SAVE, an educational program that taught alternative behaviors to abusive males.
Now she is the Coordinator of Electronic Monitoring Services and Lead Case Manager.
“Our goal is to reduce risk to reoffend. PACT promotes public safety and better lives for the clients that we serve. I want everyone to be successful in their own right. Even if it takes baby steps, they are better than they were before.”
Amesha oversees other employees as well as continues to do hands-on work herself. She is in charge of the electronics they use to monitor house arrest and is responsible for performing her department’s assessments. She does case planning and holds case management meetings.
PACT develops its programs based on the community’s needs, research, and Evidence-Based Practices. They have also helped to establish veteran court and drug court. They try to keep families together even when one of its members must go through rehabilitation.
Amesha says that the biggest challenge PACT faces is getting the community to understand the value of having agencies like them in the neighborhood.
“Everybody wants to feel safe and secure in their community,” Amesha says. “Anybody who goes to county jail, and 98% of the people who go to prison, are coming back. How do we want them to come back? PACT is a forward thinking company that is always looking at how we can better serve. We are a community with a lot of resources that not every city has. Valparaiso was a little smaller and slower back [when I moved here] but when you look at the growth of the community, it speaks to the feeling of safety. People continue to move here.”