MOULTRIE, Ga. — If you’re a man recently out of jail, you don’t have many options. You could go right back to the place you were when you got in trouble, or you could change your life. If you decide to change your life, one of the few programs in Moultrie that can help is Crossroads Mission.

Crossroads offers a place to stay, meals, help in finding a job, counseling, Christian mentorship and more.

But only if you’re a man. 

If you’re a woman, you don’t have that option. A committee of local people think it’s time that you did. The committee began meeting in the second half of 2020 to plan Crossroads for Her, a ministry based on the successful plan of Crossroads but tweaked to meet the needs of female clients.

The idea grew out of Linda Berl’s experiences with a prison ministry based at Heritage Church. Berl said she and Kim Croft would go into the Colquitt County Jail once a week to witness to the women incarcerated there. They’d lead singing, give a message and hold a prayer.

“You get to know them even across the bars,” Berl said.

What she found was that many of the women were returning to jail because they didn’t have any place to go except back into the circumstances that landed them in trouble in the first place. Virtually all of them struggled with alcohol or drug abuse, she said, and those substances were waiting for them in their old neighborhoods as soon as they got out of jail.

Berl told the story of a woman who got out of jail, got a good job and found a place to stay — then found herself back in jail because she couldn’t give her probation officer a legal address. Berl said she asked someone at the probation office about it, and they told her it happens a lot.

“They’ve served their time,” Berl said. “Many want to change their lives. They just need help to change their lives.”

Berl and Darlene Cox approached Dr. Randy Benner, director of Crossroads, to get some direction on the formation of a women’s transition home.

“We know personally how good a job they’re doing over there,” Berl said. “… Why reinvent the wheel?”

Benner’s response? “He said, ‘Our board has been praying for this for years,’” Berl said.

Things have happened pretty fast since then.

The Crossroads board of directors asked Berl and Cox to co-chair a steering committee. The committee operates under Crossroads’ 501(c)(3) nonprofit designation, and Crossroads for Her will continue to do so after it opens, at least for a while.

“Our job [on the steering committee] is to get the building and the fundraising to the finish line,” Berl said.

Land has been donated on Second Avenue Southeast, and a sketch has been drawn up for the building. Fundraising is off to a good start, although there’s a long way to go. 

“We wanted enough money to pay the draftsman/architect and we tripled that,” Berl said.

Construction is dependent on continued fundraising, but Berl said the committee hopes to break ground in the spring and to have the building up by the end of the year. The committee will simultaneously be working on the exact program to be offered to the women.

If all goes well, Crossroads for Her could open its doors to clients early in 2023.

The committee wants to make the ministry accessible to everyone, but they also know not everyone will be a good fit. As with Crossroads, there’s an interview process for prospective clients.

“We need to make sure they understand what will be required from them,” Berl said.

Participants will have to work; Crossroads for Her will help them to get a job.

At Crossroads Mission, residents are expected to volunteer with The Storehouse, a thrift store operated by Heritage Church; Berl said she expects a similar requirement for the clients of Crossroads for Her.

Transportation will be offered for clients to participate in Celebrate Recovery, a program at Temple Baptist Church, and in the Colquitt County Accountability Court, if either of those is needed.

Berl said organizers plan to connect clients with mental health resources if they’re needed.

The steering committee also envisions classes for the women. Berl said Crossroads Mission already requires residents to take a financial literacy course, and Crossroads for Her will do the same, but the committee is also looking at cooking, gardening or other classes to help give the women purpose when they’re not working.

Berl said Crossroads for Her is also looking for women to volunteer as Christian mentors for the clients. Anyone interested can contact a member of the steering committee or email crossroads4her@gmail.com.

React to this story:

0
0
0
0
0

Trending Video

Recommended for you