Project 50, No. 4: HopeWorks
Project 50 is a weekly feature on a Mid-South nonprofit that will go on through 2014. I hope that you decide to get involved with at least one organization you hear about this year and put your love for Memphis to work. For this week's Project 50 edition, we have a guest post by Lauren Hannaford of Obsidian PR, who represents HopeWorks.
HopeWorks has served the Memphis community for more than 20 years. The organization provides several faith-based tools and resources, like a 13-week Personal and Career Development program and a growing GED prep program. HopeWorks’ main goal, however, is to empower people who have served time in prison to improve their lives, and in turn, lower Memphis’ recidivism rate.
Polly Fox is an example of someone who has made the most of HopeWorks’ programs. She served 30 years in prison after a terrible accident, and didn’t know where to turn after her release. She spent the last 14 years of her sentence taking classes, learning maintenance skills, and earning her GED, but she still had to overcome the challenge of finding employment with a 30-year prison sentence on her background.
She found HopeWorks, completed the program, and found an entry-level job at a local establishment. Through HopeWorks’ guidance, Polly saved money, paid debts, and was able to earn enough to buy herself a car. The independence afforded by these achievements has allowed her to earn promotions and raises.
Like Polly’s employer, many local business owners who hire HopeWorks students say it’s the best decision they’ve ever made; they report that some students are the hardest-working employees they’ve ever had. Because of its holistic approach, HopeWorks sees below-average recidivism rates, normally around 10 percent, whereas recent studies show that depending on the state, average recidivism rates range from 30 to 50 percent across the country.
HopeWorks had an awesome 2013. The organization saw its largest graduating class in history this past fall with 78 individuals graduating from the PCD and GED programs. Additionally, 102 students found jobs at local businesses. A grant from the Tennessee Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development allowed for an expansion of the GED program as well.
HopeWorks’ leaders, teachers, faith encouragers, and supporters all work towards a common goal – changing the mindset of individuals who don’t think they’ll get a second chance and of those who don’t believe in second chances.
Offical mission statement (via whyhopeworks.org): HopeWorks, Inc. is a not-for-profit organization that seeks to serve the poor through outreach programs that develop individual worth, encourage personal responsibility and promote the honor and value of work.
Biggest annual events: A Morning of Hope with Dr. Ben Carson, renowned neurosurgeon and author of “Gifted Hands” (March 1 – go here for tickets and more info).
How you can help:
– Provide an internship opportunity or employ a student
– Sponsor a student
– Become a faith encourager or a lunch provider
Lauren Hannaford is an Account Manager at Obsidian Public Relations. She represents HopeWorks.