Bill and Anne Degnan have worked together for over 30 years developing programs that guide people to rethink decision making choices and find wholeness in their lives. The Degnan’s have co coauthored Healing Relationships, Mending Brokenness, The Bear Story, and their original Operation New Hope life skills series.
Bill and Anne are currently retired in San Luis Obispo County. They both continue to actively educate and encourage the community. You will find them providing or collaborating in training sessions with the Senior Population. Bill still gives selflessly to his “men in blue” hosting weekly group counseling sessions inside California Department Corrections & Rehabilitation’s Salinas Valley Prison and Soledad Corrections Training Facility.
The success of Bill’s approach to guiding people in lifestyle change was documented in Justice Quarterly Vol 16 No 1 March 1999, which can be found on the First Lady’s web page. The Operation New Hope program is recognized as one of the top five rehabilitation programs in the United States.
1980 through 1992 Bill founded and developed Operation New Hopes Trauma Informed Evidence Based Curriculum while he served as Program Director inside the El Paso de Robles Boy School (California Youth Authority, CYA).
1993 Bill Experiencing and Recognizing the change in the Prison System, growing frustrated with the rising recidivism rates, he felt the need to provide the young men and women on parole with the Operation New Hope resources. Contracted as the Inland Empire Juvenile Parole office Counselor and Group Home Supervisor.
2001 through 2006 served as the Program Administrator at California State Men’s Prison-Maranatha Prison
2012 – 2015 contracted at the Los Angeles County Jails Twin Towers Men and Women Facilities.
Bill earned a degree in philosophy as a Franciscan at San Luis Rey College, joined the Boston Patriots for a year. Bill raised four children and is recognized as a natural leader. He has recognized a common thread of brokenness in various relationship through his work with youth, adults, 12 step programs, and personal growth.
Anne has paralleled Bill’s desire to help people find wholeness. Anne graduated with a BS in Nursing from Mount Saint Mary’s college in Los Angeles. She has worked extensively in cardiac care, supervision, education and is certified in Healing Touch Spiritual Ministry. As such, she too was witnessed many people seeking “wellness” by mending brokenness in their lives. Anne has collaborated during group sessions to document Bill’s techniques, edits his material and draws on the wider population she works with.
Bill and Anne have drawn on their educational background in philosophy, sociology, theology, science and medicine to create a unique lifestyle format and support program that compliments 12 step programs.
Operation New Hope (ONH), an Inland Empire-based youth rehabilitation program, began 35 years ago as a means of preparing at-risk youth for the realities of adulthood. The program originally began as a court-ordered recovery program for teens that were incarcerated and housed in California’s Youth Authority (CYA).
ONH’s founder, Bill Degnan, who worked at CYA, saw a growing trend: young men were frequently returning to the institution once they were paroled. To help combat the problem, Degnan decided to address the issue outside of the prison walls. In 1993, Operation New Hope, a learning facility, was formed for those who were not incarcerated. The thought process was simple: educate and rehabilitate at-risk youth before they become incarcerated.
Operation New Hope is based on the premise that behavior is a system of unrecognized, therefore, unsolved problems. Once the problem is identified, it can be “treated” by understanding the difference between positive and negative decision-making, awareness of toxic relationships and the development of self-trust. The youth training program helps at-risk youth ages 17 to 21 years old making conscious, informed decisions.
One of the unique aspects of Operation New Hope is that it reinforces small, everyday successes while addressing the teen’s fears of the real world. By recognizing their fears, the teen no longer feels the need to seek out drugs, alcohol or gang activity to feel safe. Knowing that they do not need that lifestyle allows them to develop skills necessary for being a productive member of community and allows them to successfully reintegrate into society.
The goal of the program is to produce a confident, self-accepting person who will make positive life choices. Instead of focusing on past failures, Operation New Hope focuses on building a bright future.
Degnan brought the unique holistic teaching approach ONH used inside California Youth Authority and applied them to the general at-risk population. Targeting the population at risk – particularly before he or she becomes incarcerated – was key. Once the learning center was created, Cal State San Bernardino and University of California, Irvine performed research to see just how effective Operation New Hope was at rehabilitating those in their youth program. The universities’ research eventually labeled ONH as an exemplary youth program. The program was then listed as a proven, evidence-based success story. The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention have also listed Operation New Hope as a model program.