Returning Youth Initiative opens the Marvel Vision Center in Hamilton | Local news



Sometimes people need a second chance.

A new Hamilton eye care center affiliated with a national program focused on people who have found themselves on the wrong side of the law aims to deliver just that.

Returning Youth Initiative is a vision that can have a positive impact on the lives of those who have served their sentence.

The official title of the effort is Post Incarceration Juvenile Justice Reformation Act Initiative, a business of Voice of the Kids, Inc., a national non-profit organization of Surajit Khanna, Ph.D. The entrepreneurship initiative helps post-incarcerated people to own their own business, provide training, employment opportunities after young adults have served their prison sentences.

“We are helping post-incarcerated young adults return to work and reintegrate into society,” said Susan Hau Uc Dickinson.

In Hamilton, the initiative aims to give a positive future to the youth of the region who return to the community.

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Hau Uc Dickinson spent part of his childhood in Hamilton, moved to a bigger city and got into trouble. She is a post-incarceration adult who has served her prison sentence and has been certified by the American Board of Opticianry. She realized she didn’t want to raise her kids in a big city and returned to Hamilton. She worked at Big Sky Eye Care in Hamilton for almost four years.

“They gave me a chance and that’s what post-incarcerated people need,” she said.

Through the Khanna initiative, she is opening an entrepreneurship called Marvel Vision Center, on Second Street in Hamilton, as a business and training center.

“Dr. Khanna offered me this program where he would help pay for the vision center with local investors and we raised almost $ 30,000,” said Hau Uc Dickinson. “We’re not done with our investment programs, but it helped open the center. ”

According to Hau Uc Dickinson, the Hamilton Marvel Vision Center will offer eye exams, designer frames, designer sunglasses, contact lenses, retina photographs and treatment for dry eyes. The vision center will offer a one-hour service for glasses, patient transportation, flexible hours and same-day appointments. The center is based on Khanna’s model curriculum and is the tool they use for training, for hope.

Anderson said the center and the initiative remain under local control.

“The community may think it’s someone from New York and it isn’t,” she said. ” We take [Khanna’s] model and do it here. He wants to extend that to all 3,142 counties in the United States. He takes it to the Supreme Court. We were reviewed by the Supreme Court and Kamala Harris’s office a few weeks ago.

The back end of the business will have a bistro with coffee, smoothies, and a boba drink (a drink that includes chewy tapioca balls).

Valli Anderson, executive assistant of the Khanna Youth Return Initiative, said the initiative “is not a handout but a helping hand”.

“There’s a 10 hour fee or community service, we want them to be involved, we want them to build their own franchises, have their own goals,” Anderson said. “It’s not something that we tell them what to do.”

Hau Uc Dickson will operate the Marvel Vision Center, a franchise of Marvel Vision Center in Pennsylvania.

“I will teach the post-incarcerated people who will work with us,” she said. “They will receive the professional skills, they will be apprentices and will know how to manage their own optical business. If it’s something they choose to do in the future, it’s an open door.

In a phone conversation last week, Surajit Khanna, Ph. D, founder of Returning Youth Initiative, said exciting things were happening in Hamilton.

“The aim of the initiative is to inform the community and make them understand that the young adult who has been in prison for any mistakes he made on his release is different and needs another chance” Khanna said. “We’re setting up the Marvel Vision Center to show that people in prison can do business, they can run a business, they can serve the community. We have to give them the chance.

He called the second chance “an opportunity for miracles.”

“Give them love and training,” he said. “This initiative makes the difference, we try to give the secret sauce. We’re not just throwing them out of jail. We create a business for them, restore their life, give them life skills training and an opportunity to build a career. It gives young people hope and a positive approach.

Kari Anderson is the initiative manager for Missoula and Ravalli counties and owner of the Marvel Vision Center building in Hamilton.

“We try to involve people because we want to help the community, we want to help people,” she said. “Just because you’ve made a mistake in the past you shouldn’t be marked forever. “

Valli Anderson said there are a variety of companies using the initiative model across the country.

“We have medical spas, we have partnerships with CDLs, and we just thought about partnering with a landscaping company in town,” said Valli Anderson. “The options are quite endless. We want them to be who they want to be because they are not their mistake, they are better than that. They have so many talents that they hide because they are marked.

Hau Uc Dickinson said the Returning Youth Initiative is fundraising.

“We have a safe haven and 51% of this activity [Marvel Vision Center] supports services for our local people, ”said Hau Uc Dickinson. “We are not sending this money, everything is here at home. Convicted felons cannot hire and can barely find a job. We can help with vocational training, with mental health, with housing needs, we can educate them. “

Valli Anderson said they are trying to reach a million people.

“We want them to know our history and if they can donate a dollar, we’ll take a dollar,” she said.

“The purpose of fundraising is to share our story with a million people,” she said. “We are helping with community events to show the community why they should be accepted, they have taken action to be better people.”

She said providing opportunities can prevent repeated failures.

“The recidivism rate is so high and we are trying to prevent people from going back to the prison system,” said Kari Anderson. “My daughter is currently in the prison system and that is why I am so passionate about it. I think if she had had that kind of opportunity or the help and resources that we’re trying to provide, maybe she wouldn’t have had any problems.

The Marvel Vision Center grand opening is scheduled with facility tours, tastings and discounts at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, August 12 at 239 North 2nd Street, Hamilton.



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