The nation has become adept at putting people behind bars. We are less successful, however, at helping ex-cons become useful citizens once they leave prison.
A pilot program by Rock Hill's TLC Ministries and Carolina Community Actions will do its part to remedy that situation for a few former, non-violent offenders in the area. The six-week program, which starts this month, will help probationers and parolees to develop some of the necessary skills they will need when applying for jobs.
Initially, the program will feature four sessions, each with five participants. Classes will be tailored to meet the specific needs of the students.
The students will be taught skills such as how to fill out a job application, draw up a resume and manage one's time. But training also will include instruction in such basic areas as personal hygiene, how to dress for an interview and how to bolster self-esteem.
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The program eventually could evolve to include more intensive training in various job skills. It could be expanded to accommodate larger classes and more students. Organizers also hope that local employers will get involved, perhaps offering jobs to some of the program's graduates.
But the primary goal of the program is to provide a foundation of basic knowledge and behavioral skills that will help students keep a job once they have landed one. As Nona Grant, case manager/instructor for Carolina Community Actions, notes: "They can see it is possible. I never say it's not going to be hard, but it's possible."
We appreciate that sentiment and the mission behind this effort. The students in this program are people who have made mistakes and who will have to overcome many obstacles to become successful, self-sustaining members of society.
But their success serves the best interests of that society, and helping them succeed benefits us all. We hope this program, which, for now, is funded by grant money, will prosper and grow, and inspire others like it.
Those interested in making a donation or helping out in some way can call 324-1594.