EPIC Program Embraces Criminal and Gang Members Anonymous

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Criminal and Gang Members Anonymous (also known as the CGA) is a 12-step recovery program for men and women who are willing to be sincere about their inability to stop committing crimes. The program’s primary purpose is to develop and practice a better way of living free of destructive addictions, while taking time to be self-aware and reach out to help other criminals find a peaceful, productive way of living.

Recently, Parole Agent Paul Cooper and EPIC Program Supervisor Carla Pickard have arranged local CGA meetings one afternoon a week for clients who are enrolled in the Weingart Center’s EPIC Program. The meetings are held on the seventh floor of the Weingart Center, which have been occurring every Wednesday afternoon since early March, 2011. Mr. Paul Cooper and Ms. Carla Pickard encourage anyone who is feeling conflicted with their life choices to attend the meetings.

The meetings are facilitated by EPIC Counselor Mr. Aubrey Turner, who has also been a member of the CGA since 2007. To date, Mr. Turner has done a wonderful job with introducing EPIC members to this program and has implemented the program to the curriculum.

Many of the members express feelings of camaraderie, due to sharing experiences that are all-too-familiar within the confines of the room’s walls.  Shawn, one member of the CGA and EPIC client, feels that the meetings are beneficial. “I like CGA and recommend those who want to stop going to prison and stop doing criminal activities to try CGA.”

On a Thursday evening in Late November, Mr. Turner transported thirteen members to a CGA meeting held outside of the Weingart Center. The members who were in attendance were afforded the opportunity of being introduced to the son of the founder of CGA whose name will remain anonymous.  He shared with the members about his experience being sentenced to life in prison when he was seventeen years old for a gang related murder he choose to be involved in. Today he has been out of prison for a total of four months and is currently active in carrying the CGA message.

Looking into the future, we hope that the CGA meetings continue to inspire new members to change their old ways. Our EPIC clients are proud of their commitment to recovery and are ready to lead by example.

The Weingart Center for the Homeless provides comprehensive human services to homeless men, women, veterans, parolees, families, HIV+ and other at-risk individuals, giving them the skills, resources, and hope they need to lead productive lives off the streets. Located in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles' Skid Row, the Weingart Center for the Homeless is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that breaks the cycle of homelessness and poverty.

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