Thursday, January 27, 2011

Making a Difference: Alumni Award recipient Judge Chris Melonakis helps families

Each year, the Office of Alumni Relations recognizes outstanding Metro State graduates and students who have made a difference in their communities, exhibited Metro State pride, have a strong work ethic or are distinguished in their communities. This year’s awardees will be honored at the Alumni Recognition/Athletics Hall of Fame Luncheon on Feb. 19, as part of the Homecoming festivities.

Metro State is not the only one to recognize District Judge Chris Melonakis of the Seventeenth Judicial District for his contributions to the community. In 2007, court reporter Julie Richer, nominated Melonakis for the annual Outstanding Judicial Officer in the Colorado Judicial Branch award.

“Judge Melonakis excels in public service,” Richer said, noting that he helped form the Integrated Family Drug Court to combat drug addiction among mothers of young children. The program provides counseling, job training, day care and transportation to help mothers overcome addiction and reunite with their children. The nomination led the Colorado Judicial Branch to recognize Melonakis for exemplary work contributing to the high quality of service provided throughout the state’s 22 judicial districts.

According to Richer, Melonakis also spearheaded an initiative in the Seventeenth Judicial District to prevent and treat fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. Each year 40,000 children are born with the effects of alcohol consumption by their mothers at a cost of $4 billion, Richer explained. The program, led by Melonakis, seeks to prevent juvenile delinquency and promote rehabilitative services and public safety.

Melonakis also started a Family Court Pilot Program to study the results when multiple cases involving one family are handled by the same court. According to Richer: “An evaluation of 27 Family Court cases and 28 cases that were not part of the pilot program indicates that the program better responds to families’ needs and reduces by half the length of time children spend in placement outside their homes.”

Congratulations Judge Melonakis!

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