WELLFORD, S.C. —
JUMPSTART is set to hold its grand opening at 9 a.m. on Saturday for the newly built "Restoration Village" in Wellford.
The Restoration Village is a 26-acre campus that will feature 24 transitional homes and a large list of amenities for men and women transitioning out of prison back into society."
"JUMPSTART exists to create meaningful opportunities for men and women who are incarcerated,” JUMPSTART Executive Director Cary Sanders said. "This will be a community that will serve 106 men and woman every single year. 125 men and woman are getting out of prison and coming to the upstate every month. For those who get out without any assistance, over 70% of them return to prison within three years nationally. Over the past 10 years, 96% of those who have come through jumpstart are now thriving in the community.”
While the village is not 100% complete, there are several homes that are already built and ready to be lived in.
“Yes, people who’ve committed crimes need to experience justice, but 95% of those who are incarcerated are being released," Sanders said. "So, why not have them be prepared and have a pathway toward a bright future.”
Sanders said there will be staff and cameras on-site to monitor behavior, mandatory drug tests for participants, and assigned mentors. Sanders said with those aspects, the 'Restoration Village' will potentially be a much safer community than some of the surrounding areas, due to strict requirements to live there.
Sanders also said that the housing will no be a handout, but an opportunity that requires work, accountability, and dedication from the participants.
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"People without opportunity need opportunity to get on their feet, but once they’re gainfully employed they will pay a program fee because we believe men and women need to own their responsibility for their own care in life.”
With a 96% success rate according to Sanders, the need to help more ex-prisoners getting out as well as demand to become a participant has boosted the 'Restoration Village' project, something that was a few years in the making.
Jennifer Meade, a current JUMPSTART participant, said the organization has changed her life for the better. She said she served time in prison three different times, but now has a new outlook on life.
“I got out March 1, 2022, and I came to JUMPSTART,” Meade said "When I got out the second time, I didn’t have anywhere to go. So, I went back to the same thing I was doing. The first two times I knew nothing about JumpStart, and this last time I knew I had to do something different with my life.”
Meade said she hopes her journey of turning her life around will inspire someone else in a similar situation to make the necessary changes they need to, to put their lives on a positive track.
"You have to put the effort in and give 100%, and you’ll be fine," Meade said.
Sanders said the remainder of the village will rely on support from the community. He hopes to have the village completed in its entirety by 2025.
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