A new hope with Project New Hope

Published 12:11 am Saturday, May 28, 2011

Graduates of the Purpose of God’s Project New Hope receive certificates at First Presbyterian Church, shaking hands with elected officials for the first time. (WDN Photo/Edwin Modlin II)

Funding issues may force program to close its doors

Project New Hope celebrated another graduation ceremony Friday at First Presbyterian Church. However, it could be its last.

Bishop Samuel Jones Jr., founder and CEO of Purpose of God Annex Outreach Center, said he is thrilled that the center is able to help people and “at risk” youth.

“This is the last graduation on the WIA (Workforce Investment Act) money,” Jones said. “And we really don’t know if we’ll be able to have another class.”

According to Jones, the Workforce Investment Act will be cut on June 30. However, he added, he will continue the process of helping others.

Statistics show that 95 percent of the people in the program need to be there, Jones said. And the other five percent are ones that want to be there because they want the discipline and want to better themselves.

“We can continue with investing in building jails and prisons,” Linda Logan said, as she discussed the history of Project New Hope. “Or we can invest in our youth and lead them to a better path.”

Brian Jackson, a graduate of the program, said he is thankful for the businesses and business leaders who help support Project New Hope by employing graduates of the program.

“Not many people employ people with a felony on their record,” he said. “And with Project New Home, we have a chance to choose the harder right than the easier wrong.”

John Oakley, president and CFO of Flanders Corp., said Flanders employs several graduates of the program. He has sat down and spoken with them on several occasions.

“I met a young man who came through Project New Hope,” Oakley said, “and the number one thing he got out of the program was how to respect himself and others.”

“I am committed to still continuing the program and helping people,” Jones said.

May 3 was the 12-year anniversary that Purpose of God has been in business, helping those that society has given up on. Ironically, they are the one’s in need of help now.

“We need funding, just like every other program in the county,” Jones said. “We’re losing grants but our services are still strong. In fact, we’re providing more services with what little money we have.”

As funding is limited, such as the GIVE Grant, which stands for Gang Intervention Vocation Education, being taken away on June 30, Purpose of God will be very limited with services rendered.

According to Jones, they are already operating on a shoestring budget and this could very well be the last graduating class of the Purpose of God.

“We really need this community to know that we’re dealing with financial shortfalls like everyone else,” Jones said. “Our grants are going away on June 30.

“We’ve been on that grant for three years,” he said. “The program has been in existence for almost four years.”
In three and one-half years, Purpose of God has placed at least 630 people back into the work force – 45 percent of whom still maintain their jobs. Eighty-five percent have not returned to criminal activity.

“Purpose of God is the only program in 20 counties that can prepare and rehabilitate felons to go back into the work force,” Jones said.

Purpose of God helps “at risk” youth from the ages of 14 to 24 for gang prevention. So far, the program has graduated 21 “at risk” youth this year.

With the tuition and programs Purpose of God offers, the annex should be taking in $74,000 per year. However, because people can’t afford to pay and the grants are being discontinued, Purpose of God has only been getting $3,000 per year.

“We’ve been writing for grants every day but the money pot is getting smaller,” Jones said. “We are a United Way agent and have been for about 10 years. We are a no-nonsense academy, structured faith-based program.”

For more information on Purpose of God, contact Purpose of God Annex Outreach Center at 252-974-1484. It is located at 1015 E. Sixth St., Washington.