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Reflections on 2016 APMP-NCA Mid-Atlantic Conference - By Kelvin Manurs

by H. Debbie Chen | Nov 01, 2016

Reflections on 2016 APMP-NCA Mid-Atlantic Conference

Through direct, positive connection and specific guidance, Kelvin helps veterans and citizens returning from incarceration to chart new paths for careers and life through his organization, Arm & Arm. The Core Values of Arm & Arm are Transparency, Empathy and Love.  While Kelvin’s work was innovative, with cutting edge approaches and programs showing great results, Kelvin felt his growth was hindered by an inability to properly reflect this in grants and proposals. With the introduction of the resources provided by APMP-NCA, Kelvin knew that his involvement in the organization was just what was needed to take his business to the next level and reinforce the core values of his peer to peer organization.

As a Student & Transitioning Vet Scholarship award winner, Kelvin attended the 2016 APMP-NCA Mid-Atlantic Conference on October 21, 2016. Here’s what he says about his experience at the conference:

“While my main goal was to gain insight about writing government proposals, APMP-NCA has enlightened me the bigger picture of relationships within my team, key elements in my pitch, follow up, social media and much more. Thank you guys for showing interest in a small grass roots organization. Your effort is the evidence that we all matter and play a part in a better tomorrow for our country.”

KevinKelvin Manurs is a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist, a Returning Citizen from Incarceration and a U.S. Army Veteran, who has had many successes and challenges in his life.  After high school he entered the military where he served during Desert Storm.  By the end of his service Kelvin was not only and active alcoholic, but a drug addict as well.  Although he was liked by his coworkers on jobs, always showed professionalism, and was very knowledgeable at work, he continued to sabotage his great efforts by relapsing on drugs and alcohol.   He went to numerous treatment programs through the Veterans Administration and in the private sector, but was unsuccessful, until in 2006 after being arrested for a misdemeanor possession charge he had his, True Break Through.  “I knew that at some point I would die, and I felt that I had only wasted my life trying to find The Place Where He Belonged”.  While Kelvin was released from active Addiction to Drugs and Alcohol, he was not released from the old unhealthy values that he had acquired over the years.  It was those values that led him into the Criminal Lifestyle of drug dealing Prior to his incarceration in 2009.  He served five years for Possession with Intent to Distribute Cocaine and Marijuana, also Unlawful Possession of Ammunition and Attempted Possession of a Controlled Substance.  It was during those five years of incarceration that Kelvin was able to find, “The Place where He Belonged”.  It wasn’t in Medical Office Management, or in Addiction/Criminality, it wasn’t in Incarceration either, no, it was in active participation in the lives of Returning Citizens from Incarceration and Veterans, where Kelvin found his place.  

Kelvin Manurs, through spiritual unction, started a program for drug dealers, while incarcerated, called Arm & Arm.  During his time in prison Arm & Arm evolved to include all inmates and a curriculum.  It was because of his work in this program and his standing within the Christian Inmate population that Kelvin was asked by a fellow inmate, (who was a leader of the Muslim population), to work together to start a program that was focused on the youths within the facility.   The name of the joint effort was called “Solutions”.  A variety show that gave inmates an opportunity to express themselves thru Rap, Song, Spoken Word, or Skit.  The first Solutions had a total of twelve people including facilitators, but after one year, upon Kelvin’s transfer, it included Panel Discussions, Prison Staff (Warder included), Acknowledgement Awards, Current Events and more.  As a result, it was recognized that many inmate conversations were about achieving positive personal and family goals when returning home.

Through Life Experiences, college courses, training in behavioral therapy/addictions counseling and Theological Studies, Kelvin gained the insight to reformat the program Arm & Arm, which today addresses both Returning Citizens from Incarceration and Veterans.  It also uses an empathic approach to help these individuals, to see how unhealthy and irrational past choices have led to undesired consequences today.  The program consists of Open Topic Discussion Groups, Cognitive Behavioral Workshops and Maintenance Groups.  Arm & Arm is currently holding groups bi-weekly in Arlington, Virginia and weekly Fairfax, Virginia, with much success.