The volunteers, law officers, supervision authorities and steering committee for the Liberty County Re-entry Coalition say the program to reintegrate inmates leaving jail into the community has progressed since it started in September 2014.
During a stakeholders and community meeting Thursday at the Liberty County Justice Center, committee member Daisy Jones said the coalition hopes to have the doors open to an office within 45 days, pending funding.
“We are very pleased with the progress we’ve been able to make,” Jones said.
She noted that the last stakeholders’ meeting in November drew staff members from the Governor’s Office of Transition, Support and Re-entry.
“As you know, the report they took back was that they were impressed and appreciative of our progress … Since that time, we received a letter of commendation from the governor’s office regarding what we are doing. Also, they are working on state funding to come in as well as some other funding streams.”
Jones added that state funds are pending and will pay salaried positions, as well as some of the program’s services. Jones said local funds are still needed. She added that without local funding, it will be difficult to keep the doors open at the coalition’s office at 205 E. Court St., Hinesville.
The Liberty County Commission provided the office. In lieu of rent, the group agreed to renovate the building.
Jones gave the stakeholders an update on the work. She said newly painted walls have made the office more welcoming to those seeking assistance.
“We are making significant improvements to the building and we are grateful for this. … It is a perfect location for the re-entry program,” Jones said. “We turned on the lights, we turned on the water, we had it cleaned, and it looks fabulous. But in order to keep the lights on and the water and the telephones on, we need money.
Besides making the program sustainable, money is needed to provide services.
Jones said the funding for the necessities must come from the community. She added that the coalition is working with local agencies and businesses willing to donate toward utility bills, but more support is needed for the office.
Local funding would allow the group to buy equipment needed to run the program, she said.
Jones had the participants break into groups to come up with ideas on topics of job opportunities, fundraising and faith-based assistance.
The faith-based organizations reported the need to assist the clients by offering a nurturing and supporting environment.
Those tasked with employment spoke about the need to partner with corporations in the area. They cited the poultry industry, saying they could ask those employers to keep a certain number of jobs open for their clients. They added that construction and labor jobs are also viable options.
The fundraising group talked about the possibility of hosting a 5K fun run/walk that would benefit the program. Members said they could seek in-kind donations from the water and utility companies to reduce costs.
Jones said the need to have the program running, sustainably, is urgent as the coalition is already hearing from people needing its services. She added that the group has started seeking volunteers to staff the office.
“Very soon, we will have an open house,” she said.