Turning Point Foundation receives grant

Published 4:57 pm Thursday, March 5, 2015

A local foundation that specializes in helping some area men get back on their feet is getting a little help of its own—thanks to a  grant.

The Turning Point Foundation, located on eight and a half acres off County Road 627 in Thorsby, has been selected to receive a grant from The Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham in the amount of $5,000. The grant is going toward the creation of a career education computer lab.

The foundation is a faith-based facility that serves as a substance abuse and addiction recovery program for men, aged 18 and older.

While the center is grounded in the Christian faith, administrator Tim Dean said beliefs do not matter when someone new walks through the doors of the program.

“We’re a faith-based facility, but we don’t ask that you believe what we believe,” he said. “All that we ask here is that people want to change their lives.”

One of the ways to change lives, Dean said, is to better equip men who leave the program to find jobs and become productive members of society.

“Where faith-based recovery centers have been very good is getting people in, giving them some clean thinking, and giving them some tools for themselves,” he said. “Where I believe a lot of centers are lacking is the back end: If you have a drug problem, a lot of times, you either are unemployed or are under-employed. You may have a legal background that makes your job pool smarter. We want to identify individuals that we can help on the back end, and that’s the reason for this (computer lab). In just letting a resident have access, helping with a resume, we’ve seen success.”

Dean cites one resident in particular whose access to training tools helped him overcome personal issues to find a job.

“We had one guy who came to us who couldn’t read or write,” Dean said. “He was very bright, a very bright mechanic, who came to us with a host of legal issues through Jefferson County drug court. We got him, and basically, he gave himself a chance and the Lord a chance and came here. He changed his life and got a job at the Mercedes plant.”

Still, as much as the foundation helps, Dean said he feels the staff can better serve the residents.

“We can do more: More training, resumes, more GED training,” he said. “You get a guy and give them hope, but no job, it’s really tough. We want to take it a step further, with some onsite training, some research, with teaching people how to do a resume.”

Which is where the foundation is hoping the grant will help. The funds garnered through the grant will help build and improve a computer lab that will allow attendees the ability to research job fields, work on their resumes and locate potential occupations, Dean said.

“The original design (was) four computers at around $5,000,” he said. “Now, it’s 12-15 computers for around $15-20,000.”

Dean said some assistance from the Clanton Police Department has helped the idea for the computer lab to grow.

“Capt. (Neil) Fetner and Chief (Brian) Stilwell had some first-generation equipment, and they donated it to us,” he said. “Capt. Fetner offered his time with help and training.”

The grant was a pleasant surprise, Dean said.

“The one thing I thought was exciting for Chilton County was, the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham is the largest grant supplier in the state,” he said. “They are investing funds in Chilton County, they’re coming here. We’re probably on the smaller end of the grants, but they sent their team here for a site visit.”

Dean also said the grant award encouraged the foundation to apply for others, receiving assistance from the Calera Walmart as well as waiting to hear back on other possible grants, with the intention to match donations put up.

David Pendley, Foundation Executive Director, said the opportunity to reach people in need made the impact of receiving the grant important, not just to the foundation but to those it serves.

“The impact (on the residents) is why I do what I do,” Pendley said. “It is why (my wife and I) sold out to help out. Being an ex-addict at one time, what I had to lose and watching God re-sort all that, that’s the whole reason. We want to do anything we can possibly do to help them succeed when they get out of here.”

In addition to helping the residents of the foundation, Dean said they wanted to make sure the foundation served Chilton County as well.

“We are part of Chilton County, and we want to be good stewards of the community,” he said. “We want to improve what we do. To start simple, but improve. Simple doesn’t mean minor. We want to be, and we’re going to be, good stewards with the money we’ve been entrusted.”