Partner Spotlight: Dorchester Bay EDC’s Reentry Program

Linda Mello at Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corporation

Linda Mello

The Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corporation (DBEDC) Reentry Program began in 2008. Participants are connected to the program through pre-release centers including Brooke House, Suffolk County House of Correction, Hope House, and referrals from probation officers, judges, police officers, lawyers, and former program participants. They support about 75 new clients yearly with an average of 70% being accepted into GED programs or career training programs like NECAT.

As Linda Mello, DBEDC Reentry/Job Placement Consultant will tell you, returning from jail or prison is no smooth ride. While no longer behind bars, so many who are recently released face barriers that include homelessness, a lack of transportation, inadequate access to healthcare, and limited job opportunities. This is why, for the past seven years, Linda has referred participants to NECAT’s program. With its structured, full-time schedule, and equal emphasis placed on job readiness, skill development and emotional support, NECAT can be an ideal option for someone looking for stability and opportunities after incarceration.

We recently connected with Linda to see how DBEDC’s Reentry Program has been faring over the past year, and why she continues to refer program participants to NECAT. Her most recent referral graduated from NECAT in December and secured a full-time Prep Cook position with Whole Foods just this week!

  1. Tell us about your program. How are things different in the COVID age.

Each individual’s needs determine our approach and support through relationship building and job preparation. Constant contact with our outreach counselor helps to build trust and supports the success of each participant. Individual counseling fosters a sense of belonging, motivation, and an understanding that each participant can start a new life and look forward to a brighter future.

The Reentry team conducts an initial intake to determine the appropriate services to provide each participant. Career development is the program’s primary focus and highlights the importance of a career. Every participant is encouraged to enroll in a job training program, like NECAT’s, that meets their skillset and offers promising job opportunities in their fields of interest.

COVID-19 increased the demand for our reentry services and impacted how we connect with program participants. We reach out to new and current participants through phone calls and virtual meetings. The change was a challenge initially, but it became the best way to expand our program’s reach in the community.


  1. What inspires you most in working with your clients?

Our program participants’ successes deeply inspire us; each has shown that possibilities are endless if given a chance. Their successes spur us to double our outreach efforts and provide more training and employment opportunities, essential to returning citizens’ success.


  1. Why do you refer your clients to NECAT?

Our clients’ success rate at NECAT has been tremendous! Dorchester Bay Reentry Program participants referred to NECAT remain employed and continue to excel in their work in the food services industry.

A recent program participant praised the training he received at NECAT highly above other culinary programs he previously attended.

What we love most about NECAT is the staff’s dedication and compassion. The support for trainees continues after graduation with the offer of future opportunities. No one is left behind! Their love for cooking is as great as their love for the trainees.