Project New Hope lacks funding

Published 12:34 am Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Project New Hope: Refuge Intervention has placed 660 people in jobs over the past four years, with 50 percent of those placed still in the work force, said Bishop Samuel Jones.

Of the hundreds of former criminals the program has retrained, 85 percent haven’t returned to crime, said Jones, who founded Project New Hope with his wife, Mother Regina Jones.

Despite its success, Project New Hope’s future is in doubt.

The program has been operating on “no money” since June 30, when its funding dried up, Jones told spectators and participants at a recent Project New Hope graduation in Washington.

“This may be our last graduation,” he said.

Jones praised staff he said had been working on half-time wages since June — employees who refused to abandon their posts despite the lack of funding.

“I’m thankful to these people,” he said in an at-times-tearful speech.

He said New Hope has turned down some funding opportunities because he and his colleagues refuse to shed the nonprofit’s religious affiliations.

In earlier remarks, speaker Linda Logan retraced Project New Hope’s history, pointing to the initiative’s beginnings with a meeting at the Washington Housing Authority offices in July 2007.

The program began with residents’ concerns about criminal activities in areas served by agencies like the housing authority, Logan shared.

“We asked ourselves what can we do to help,” she said.

Since then, Project New Hope has afforded job- and life-skills training to the people it serves, with an emphasis on building self-esteem and self-sufficiency, Logan said.

The program targets people ages 16 to 55, 95 percent of whom may be felons, she said.

“They need a family instead of a gang,” Logan said.

James Martin, another speaker at the graduation ceremony, is a participant in the program.

“I’m making a big change in my life through Project New Hope,” Martin said at the assembly.

Later, he stressed the need for continuing the program.

“A lot of places that you go, there are no programs like this,” Martin said.

Project New Hope was won plaudits from Seth Edwards, district attorney in the 2nd Prosecutorial District, District Court Judge Michael Paul, Washington Mayor Archie Jennings, Beaufort County commissioners’ Chairman Jerry Langley and state Rep. Bill Cook, all of whom spoke at the ceremony.

At various points, hope was expressed — for project graduates and the program.

“Be taxpayers, be productive citizens,” Jones told the graduates. “Teach your children what you were taught.”

For more information on Project New hope, call 252-974-1484 or visit its website at