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Grant could help create community resource center
Becky Hull talks with Bill Locke and Jimmy Haley about a new resource center to better integrate inmates into society. - photo by Atlanta Northcutt

Warren County may be receiving a grant to create a community resource center aiding those coming out of incarceration, homelessness and others in need, and will become the template to create centers to be used in the other 14 counties in the Upper Cumberland region.

Upper Cumberland WorkForce has offered a grant to benefit those in need within the community by creating a resource center providing skills and the information needed to productively succeed upon re-entering society. The amount of money the grant will offer is currently unknown.

“The resource center would be like an air-traffic control system to guide people who’ve been through incarceration or need help in different areas find the tools they are looking for,” says Haley.

The center will be a one-stop shop providing job skills, mental health services, substance abuse treatment and more information to create a better understanding of the help available in the community. The goal is to groom each resource center based on the needs of the community.

“We can determine what’s needed, find a space to use, choose how to staff it and what all needs to be done in there,” says executive director of the local Upper Cumberland WorkForce, Becky Hull. “We can make the center however we want because we’ve never tried this before. We want this to be successful and a model for the entire area.”

One of the needs discussed was a shelter for the homeless or inmates being released from jail without a stable and safe place to go. The task force is looking for funding options to begin a transition house project for these individuals. 

“When people transition back into society, WorkForce can pay for a majority of the needs and services, and partner with the community to help these people continue to be successful,” says Hull.

A topic discussed was the increase in female re-entry, which is growing at a higher rate than males. WorkForce can offer childcare support and partner with DHS to acquire outside support once the incarcerated females re-enter into society. 

“By using wrap-around services and a comprehensive approach, we want to follow up and make sure these people have everything they need after being released from jail and transitioning into society,” says Hull. “We want to help them be successful.” 

Volunteer Behavioral Health partners with WorkForce. Volunteer organizations can be set up throughout the community resource center providing the necessary needs in getting individuals the help they need, as well as providing information on where to go for the proper advice, such as health and wellness, applying for disability, obtaining a driver’s license, receiving food stamps, housing and more. 

Other opportunities which would be available include alcohol and drug assessments, resume support, twelve step classes, counselors, job resources and intensive outpatient rehabilitation to address mental health and drug and alcohol addiction, along with job training.

The task force needs more insight into how to put one of these centers together, such as finding the right building or space, literature and other resources needed and communicate those to the Upper Cumberland WorkForce.

“We’re currently looking for a location,” says County Executive Jimmy Haley. “We’re still waiting to hear the amount of money donated by WorkForce, and fill in the gaps. This is an opportunity for people transitioning out of jail, homelessness or entering the drug recovery program to be able to have a one-stop shop to find the resources needed.”