The Philadelphia Bar Foundation's Paul Kirk, Director of Operations, and Cecilia "Ceil" Driscoll, Administrative Assistant, were recognized for their work on the Supervision to Aid Reentry (STAR) Program through the Luongo Fund at a STAR Program graduation ceremony.
On Wednesday, July 17th, the Supervision to Aid Reentry (STAR) Program, also known as Reentry Court, held a ceremony at the Third Circuit Court of Appeals to celebrate this year’s program graduates. Paul and Ceil were honored at the graduation ceremony for their dedication and commitment to the program. When asked what working on the program means to them, Ceil said, “Being able to help process requests for the participants for anything from a ShopRite Gift Card to assistance with a utility bill. I have attended two Reentry Court Graduation ceremonies and have gotten chills and became teary-eyed as each participant told their success story.” Paul described that he loves “having a role to play in this community of people trying to help people who face the challenges of reestablishing their lives.” In recognition for their efforts, they received a Certificate of Appreciation from the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Congratulations to Paul and Ceil!
The STAR Program seeks to help ex-offenders who are on supervised released succeed in transitioning back to the community. Every two weeks, participants appear before a judge to report on their progress. The participants are also supervised by the Probation Officer assigned to Reentry Court. Reentry Court provides participants assistance with education, training, employment, and other needs as they arise. Since 2006, the STAR Program has had great success in reducing recidivism rates.
The Judge Alfred L. Luongo Fund, which is administered by the Philadelphia Bar Foundation, supports the STAR Program in assisting participants with reentry. The inspiration for the Luong fund came after Judge McHugh began judicial service and noticed a number of requests for assistance for STAR program participants. Shocked by the wide variety of needs, Judge McHugh established the Luongo Fund in honor of one of his late mentors, Chief Judge Alfred L. Luongo. The fund is used to provide reentry participants with money for emergency expenses including assistance with education, employment, housing, health care, and child care. A committee involving representatives from the offices of the U.S. Attorney, the Federal Defender, the Probation Office, the Reentry Court, and the Philadelphia Bar Foundation make the decision on how to allocate the funds. The Luongo Fund seeks to address the resource gap facing ex-offenders as they reenter society by providing much-needed funding for emergency needs.
For more information or to support the Luongo Fund, visit the program's page on our website.