Punitive Justice and Community Health Panelist
Gary Mares, CPSW, CHW was released from prison on November 20th, 2018. While in prison Mr. Mares was trained by Project Echo as a Peer Mentor to facilitate incarcerated men programs about communicable diseases and addiction. Project Echo gave him hope and a new outlook for life outside the walls of prison to rejoin society and give back to his community. It also opened his eyes to the value of peer-to-peer communication where the facilitator not only passes on knowledge to his peers but gains knowledge from them.
Upon his release, Mr. Mares became a participant at Best Chance a non-profit, assisting men recently released from prison. He became aware of Best Chance because of his involvement with Project Echo. In January of 2019, he enrolled at Central New Mexico Community College to obtain a certificate as a Community Health Worker. In August of 2019, he received a certificate from CNMand was certified a Community Health Worker through the state of New Mexico and in September of 2019 earned a certificate as a Certified Peer Support Worker.
Mr. Mares has been working at Best Chance since January of 2019. Gary also works with Project Echo in the C-PEP program, and with Life Link Training Institute –FEMA having been trained as a Crisis Counselor. In December of 2020, he earned his Associates’ Degree in Human Services, and in April of 2021, a certificate in substance abuse and mental health counseling at CNM. Mr. Mares has recently been certified as a QPR Train the Trainer, Presumptive Eligibility, and SOAR agent.