By Richie Richards
Native Sun News Staff Writer
To contact the Rebound Program please call 605-394-2156.
RAPID CITY –– In the eight years that the Health & Human Services’ Rebound Program has been helping those trying to reintegrate into society after a stint in jail or prison, more than 800 people have benefitted from their services.
The Rebound Program is available to anyone seeking their services and often times the application process begins in the Pennington County jail. From a kiosk in cell blocks, inmates can request a visit with the Rebound Program case manager in the jail, Tyler Snow.
This initial request for Rebound Program services begins the process for those seeking help with basic needs such as food and finding shelter, clothing, mental health needs, medical requirements, personal identification documents, county and state aid, drug/alcohol treatment, counseling resources, and veteran services in the area as well.
Once the Rebound Action Plan application form is complete and the inmate is released, case manager Steve Avery works with them on the streets to ensure their efficacious return to society.
According to Karrie Miller, Diversion Director, “The success of the Rebound Program is relative, as cost savings and expenses are difficult to measure. Many of these people are homeless and any improvement in their life is a success, although, we do see a change in their behavior after two years, plus or minus.”
The Rebound Program is not a law enforcement body and all participation in the program is voluntary. One component of the Rebound Program is the Owens Apartments.
Located on the corner of Quincy and 6th Street in downtown Rapid City, the Owens Apartments has 23 units in their building for clients in both the Behavior Management Services (BMS) and the Rebound Program. This building was abandoned for a time after fire had damaged it.
The Owens Apartments are the result of the coordinated efforts of the county and philanthropy of private investor Gail Johnson and partners.
According to Johnson, they spent $400,000 to renovate the Owens building, saying, “We developed protocol; wrote up the memorandum and with the help of a grant from John T. Vucurevich Foundation the tenants are able to rent from us at a reduced cost.”
Johnson continues, “We wanted to give opportunity for people to get a leg up; so they can get a job, get used to working, rent from us for a year or two and move on to their own apartment or house. Our goal is to help the homeless and those who haven’t had many opportunities in life.”
In order to become a tenant of Owens, a recommendation must come from the Rebound Program or BMS. The occupants of this building come from all backgrounds and all levels of mental health and addiction needs.
Tenants are closely monitored by case managers and the apartment dwellers, “look out for each other” according the Avery.
Native Sun News interviewed resident, William Waters (Oglala Lakota) of the Owens Apartments who has been through the system in Rapid City and Pennington County for a majority of his adult life.
After losing his father, Cleveland Waters, at a young age in 1993, and being diagnosed with depression at the Indian Health Services in Pine Ridge, Waters began to use alcohol combined with his anti-depressants as a means of self-medicating.
NSN asked Waters when he first used alcohol, he replied, “When I was 10 years old I started drinking. Me and my brother would sneak drinks from my mom and dad. Or steal their beer when they were passed out.”
He dropped out of Pine Ridge High School and moved to Rapid City in 1994.
It was in 1995, while partying with friends and in a “blackout”, William Waters “came to” after crashing into several cars on East North Street in Rapid City in a stolen car. The result of this incident led to a grand theft conviction and five-year prison sentence.
After serving two and half years, Waters was released on parole and returned to Rapid City; nine months later he returned to the state penitentiary in Sioux Falls to finish the original sentence after violating the terms of his parole.
When finished with his sentence in the pen, Waters, again drunk, served eight months in county jail for tampering with a vehicle just outside of the jail in the parking lot.
Since signing up for the Rebound Program in 2009, he has “only been to detox a few times” and according to Waters, the last time was two years ago.
Waters admits that he is an alcoholic and struggles but continues to be a responsible parent to a daughter he and his girlfriend “lost to the state.” Out of his Social Security check he pays $185 for his rent at Owens (subsidized) and $163 in child support.
He continues to hold on to his Native spirituality and burns sage when possible and prays for his family. Five years from now, Waters would like to be working with horses on a ranch, going to sweats, and eventually would like to Sun Dance.
To the people on the street struggling and dealing with alcoholism Waters shared, “I would like to have coffee and go talk with them. I know I lost everything, but I’m earning it all back.” He recommends that people call the Rebound Program and ask for help.
In regards to the friends he made at Health and Human Services who have given him their guidance and care, Waters calmly states, “I’m glad I have a place to stay and not living on the streets. Thank you for talking to me about my alcohol problem and giving me options so I’m not bored all the time.”
The Owens Apartments have had their share of negative publicity in the past, but the case managers who oversee the tenants and their needs want to move past those times. They are committed to the survival and revival of the lives of those living under their care.
Waters has been sober since March 25, 2015.
(Richie Richards can be reached at [email protected])
Copyright permission Native Sun News