Pioneer’s Evolution of Serving the Community
SEATTLE, WA, November 1, 2018 – Today, it is rare to hear about employees who spend their entire career at one company. Ahnetta Fields has spent over 47 years at Pioneer Human Services (Pioneer) in Seattle, and she came to Pioneer straight from prison. Pioneer is the largest and oldest nonprofit in the state of Washington focused on reentry and serving justice-involved individuals. The organization is celebrating 55 years on November 1, 2018 and has grown from one halfway house that opened in Seattle in 1963, to having treatment, housing and employment services in over 50 locations across the state of Washington.
“I was one of the first women sent from Walla Walla Prison to the new Washington Corrections Center for Women in Gig Harbor when it opened,” said Ahnetta Fields, Pioneer vocational case manager. “I was also the first woman that was sent to live and participate in Pioneer’s work release program where I got employment at Pioneer Industries, the manufacturing division of Pioneer. Boy I was a handful – but 47 years later I am still here and have had the opportunity to assist thousands of men and women over the years who struggle with the discrimination and barriers that all of us face after being released,” Fields added.
For most people who turn their lives around after incarceration, leaving behind a life of criminal behavior and addiction is something to celebrate. And it is important to them to keep in touch with the staff, programs or organizations that guided them on their journey to a successful life. Even Pioneer’s founders like to keep in touch to hear about the success and growth of the organization.
“Who would have thought that 55 years later, Pioneer would be going strong and serving about 10,000 men, women and youth annually?, said Ralph Bruksos, the only living founder and honorary governor of Pioneer. Mr. Bruksos and a few of his associates used to travel to Walla Walla Prison and bring self-help meetings to the incarcerated men inside. That’s where he met Jack Dalton, the incarcerated former lawyer from Seattle that founded Pioneer. After Jack’s release, he opened the first work release program in Seattle in 1963 and had the vision that Pioneer has followed through the years.
“I cannot even explain how thrilled Jack would be if he saw how large and successful his vision to help formerly incarcerated men and women became – everything he wanted for Pioneer came to fruition!” Bruksos added.
Pioneer Human Services provides counseling and treatment, housing and employment services to justice-involved individuals and those overcoming substance use disorders. As a social enterprise, Pioneer also operates a diverse line of businesses to provide on-the-job training and work experience, while generating revenue to help fund its social mission. In 2017, 63 percent of Pioneer’s enterprise workforce had a criminal history or was in recovery. Learn more at www.PioneerHumanServices.org.