SPRINGDALE, Ark. (KNWA) — A program in Northwest, Arkansas is helping individuals coming out of incarceration get back on their feet.
After 16 weeks in the Transitional Employment Opportunities Program, people with a criminal history can successfully get a job.
The program helps others in the area fight addiction and successfully reintegrate into the community after jail or prison.
According to Goodwill Re-Entry Specialist and Program Coordinator Brenda Stringfellow statistically a lot of the clients are recovering addicts and making sure they have a support group is step one in the free 16 week program.
From there she said the program helps people with career training and character building.
They learn skills like computer literacy, forklift training, and wage development.
At the end of the 16 weeks, there is a celebration showcasing their progress.
On July 12, the program celebrated Vickie Clanton.
Stringfellow said it is a special moment when celebrating people who finish the program because she has been on the other side.
“To have somebody hold me accountable and to be able to have that genuine support and love with something a lot of us coming out of incarceration have never felt,” she said. “From that I found my passion to help others that I share that struggle with.”
For a long time Stringfellow was in and out of jail for opioid use and addiction.
After she finished her 16 weeks in the program, she said she found her passion in helping people in re-entry.
The biggest hope for the program is to teach people how to explain their background and to acknowledge that their past doesn’t define them.