Graduates earn new hope

Published 1:07 pm Sunday, December 19, 2010

Staff Writer

A new hope is what graduates were awarded Friday afternoon at the 7th Graduation Ceremony of Project New Hope, held at First Presbyterian Church.
“Leave the Door Open” was the saying for the graduates, as they worked hard over a six-month period to get to the level where they are now.
According to Bishop Samuel Jones Jr., co-founder of Project New Hope: Refuge Intervention with his wife, Mother Regina Jones, the purpose of the program is to reform troubled people who have criminal records and need help getting back on their feet and finding a job.
“It gives people with criminal records a second chance to give back to their community and earn a job,” Samuel Jones said. “The program is designed for those who don’t have the occupational skills, academic tools and social skills to get a job on their own, something we help them with.”
He added it’s a second chance for them in order to give back to the community and be a fully functioning contributor to society.
Although Jones said 5 percent of those who are in the program have never been in trouble with the law, they just have trouble finding work.
“You must have a sense of purpose in your life in order to live a full life,” he said. “You can have all the money you want, like movie stars and professional athletes, and still have money problems like them. You have to have a sense of purpose.”
Linda Logan, a spokeswoman for Project New Hope, said their goal is to empower young adults until their lives are transformed.
“We offer job-seeking and job-keeping skills, as well as GED and continuing education classes,” she said.
Among the other courses offered by Project New Hope are public speaking, self sufficiency, anger and stress management, self esteem and more.
“Project New Hope allows participants to return back into the world as productive citizens in society and the ability to exist in a community setting,” Logan said. “We also help them accomplish a sense of self worth, pride and a sense of accomplishment.”
Project New Hope also asks local businesses to take a second look at those in the program and to help them get jobs when they graduate.
“It’s about giving new hope to those who were told that there is no hope,” Logan said.
Seth Edwards, local district attorney and master of ceremonies for the graduation, congratulated the graduates by saying hard work does pay off. He quoted a participant from last year’s graduating class.
“You have to do what you have to, so you can do what you want to do,” Edwards said.
Jerry Lawrence, a new graduate said it is a good program to be in and really helped him.
“Project New Hope is a tool for us to use and better our lives,” he said. “The first thing you have to realize is you have to change your surroundings, your friends, and be serious about what you need to do in order for Project New Hope to work for you. And we couldn’t have made it without all the staff members for helping us get through the hard times.”
Louis Beacham, another graduate, said when he first went to the program he was out on the streets at all hours of the night and never home.
“Since I’ve been in the program, I’m now working and instead of being out on the streets I’m now home with my family,” he said. “Bishop Jones and the staff gave me the tools to be able to provide for my family and be a better dad and be a better husband.”
Among the special guests were Rep. Arthur Williams who helped raise $500,000 for the program, Senior Superior Court Judge Wayland Sermons Jr., Ray McKeithan, president and publisher of the Washington Daily News, Mayor Archie Jennings and Jerry Langley, chairman of Beaufort County commissioners.
“Just remember,” Edwards said, quoting a young girl who is going through her own troubles as she gave her own testimony, “God does not count how many times you fall. He counts how many times you get up.”