Local program provides second chances for those with troubling pasts
Impact1! participants undergo a life skills curriculum as they work to prove they are more than their criminal records.
Tennessee is one of 29 states that has adopted what is known as "Ban the Box." It helps ensure employers judge applicants based on their abilities rather than their criminal background.
One local faith-based program is on board, helping and hiring convicted felons in an effort to keep them out of jail for good.
But Program Director, Wayne Moody says the program is open to anyone.
Impact1! has been up and running for three and a half years. Forty-five people have graduated from the program, but that doesn't include the number of people who landed jobs before graduation.
Eric Holloway says the program is unlike any other. He spent 18 years and nine months behind bars for murder; a violent past he says he left behind after joining Impact1!
"I've been out three years and I haven't had no help. I haven't had a job because I'm a felon. I've been to a lot of programs and they were just programs," said Holloway. "I'm happy now. I'm at peace with myself because of this program and because of the opportunity I got."
The program gives men like Holloway second chances. It also teaches them life skills and provides job opportunities through construction work so when they are released they do not re-offend. Moody says the group meets twice a week for seven weeks total. Participants are able to graduate after the seven weeks are completed. On Tuesday's they undergo a "PATH To Success" life skills curriculum. On Thursday's they work on paid construction jobs.
"The construction skills are not just a success model, it's a problem solving model also. So hopefully that translates to other thing; whatever it may be in life," said Moody. "I learn stuff from them all the time and we work as a team...It's almost like I've got a whole 'nother family of guys that I work with."
Channel 3's cameras were rolling while Moody's group of four men worked at Greater Nazarene Missionary Baptists Church on Long St. Thursday. Eric Walker was the youngest in the group. He says the program has given him someone to look up to.
"As I hear them talk I see what they go through and that builds your life up on just their experience; you can know what to watch out for," said Walker.
Kendric Cheeks agrees.
"It's all about the love; really everybody's family you know."
According to the Tennessee Department of Corrections, more than 12,788 felons re-committed a crime from fiscal year 2016 through 2017. It's a path the men of Impact1! are trying to avoid.
"I just want to be financially stable. That's really what it's all about and that's what they put in your mind; instill in you that way you keep on going. [They] set me up with opportunities I never really thought I would really have. It's just really been good to me. They taught me how to humble myself too," said Cheeks.
The program has become a full time job for Corey Green, who has been a part of it since it started. He says Impact1! has guided him into the right direction, but has also helped the community.
"We're doing something positive; almost invisible and you can't see it, but if we were doing negative the world sees it so that's as much as an impact right there," said Green.
Overcoming a troubling past is not easy, but with the support and guidance from the community anything is possible.
"I'm in love with this program I'm not letting it go," said Holloway.
If you're interested in getting involved with Impact1!, all you have to do is contact Program Director, Wayne Moody. No application is needed. Moody says you just have to be motivated. You can reach him by phone at 423-488-2347. You can also visit their website by clicking here.