S.T.E.P. hears update on possible funding

Published 1:49 pm Friday, January 28, 2022

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Managing Editor

The Seeking To Empower People program committee heard updates, including some about possible funding sources on Jan. 27.

The committee is working on ways to help those who are incarcerated, recently released from jail or on a path that could lead to them being arrested, such as addiction. The group also wants to help those facing mental health issues.

Mayor Jeff Mims, who was also influential in the formation of the S.T.E.P. program, said there was funding coming from the Endo Pharmaceuticals opioid class action settlement. The city of Clanton anticipates receiving $20,000.

At a council meeting, Mims had said he would like to see the funds used for awareness and addiction prevention.

He told the S.T.E.P. program committee he will also be discussing possible partnerships through S.T.E.P. with other mayors in the county.

Committee Chair Tony Hughes will be talking to local mayors about the program in the near future.

Federal COVID funding that has been awarded to the state might also create opportunities for the group. Clanton Chief of Staff Bob Woods said the state is considering about $11 million of COVID funding for mental health. He said this could create opportunities for the Chilton County Jail and the S.T.E.P. program to apply for funds. Possibilities will be discussed with the city grant writer.

The committee sent its 501(c)3 nonprofit paperwork to the IRS about three months ago. This will be helpful in securing interest of private donors.

Committee member Amanda Franks said she felt there would be people in the community willing to be sponsors for S.T.E.P.

Also during the meeting, member David McCary gave an update on his visits to Adult & Teen Challenge of Alabama’s adult program and Hope Inspired Ministries in Montgomery. Adult Challenge focuses on addiction recovery through a multi-phase, strict residential program. McCary said the organization has an agreement with Bush Hog that those in the second phase of the program work for the company. He said of those that fully complete the program, only approximately 4% return to addiction.

Hope Inspired Ministries helps those who have had issues keeping a job, whether because of addiction or other reasons. It is a nine-week training program.

“I was very impressed,” McCary said. “… They have a network all over Montgomery.”

McCary said the director commented he would come talk to the committee if they wanted.

“We could certainly use it in Chilton County,” McCary said.

Hughes agreed.

The need for and the possibility of having a facility in Chilton County was discussed. McCary said the director of Hope Inspired Ministries said a similar facility could be started in Chilton County for $100,000.

Turning Point, a male residential facility in Jemison, has discussed having a facility for women, according to Franks.

Hughes said the organizations can help two different groups of people.

Each of the organizations were being looked at as resources the committee could recommend to Chilton County residents needing help. An assessment process is being developed.

Committee member Sheri Woods talked about being able to assist those in the jails with nutrition needs and providing hygiene items to those who are being released. Woods said the sheriff was open to the ideas, but a space to keep the hygiene items would need to be found.

Hughes said developing an exit protocol to see what those leaving the jail might need would be good. Franks said she has been discussing this with jail employees.