LOUISVILLE, Ky. - A decade is a long time to lose, just ask Sherri Mcvay-Thompson.
“It's not easy when you're coming back into society especially when you have been in prison that long it's a very hard transition emotionally and every way,” Thompson said.
One of the first things on her mind was finding employment. She ran into roadblocks because of her conviction, and was living in Florida before moving to Kentucky to be with her sister. Fortunately, her new probation officer told her about Seed to Oaks' Job 1 Program. That’s where she met Nikki Walker .
“Sometimes you are very guarded about how much you do say. And, for me it's like a release to be able to just tell your story and get it out so you feel like you have no burden if it on you and she made me feel like that just kind of sit there and tel her the whole story,” Thompson said.
“She was very transparent she was very open she was very forthcoming about her situation and the work that she needed so it very easy to talk to her I don't feel like at all we place any judgement. I have a social work background, I've worked in this field for many years and I just know that people need second chances,” Walker said.
The connection led Sherri to a job. Today, she wakes up and heads to Goodwill. The job offers her a chance to show customers the same kindness she’s received.
“Having gone through all that and staying focused changed me as a person it made me much more compassionate about people more understanding,” Thompson said.
Sherri is just one example of the work that Seed to Oaks is doing every day.They take the community's most vulnerable by the hand. Many of them have criminal histories, but the group helps them find full-time work. They work with faith-based organizations and offers free health services. Super Chefs One is among the local businesses that’s partnering up with Seed. They know the power of a second chance.
“We got kind hearts and so we have taken some chances on people who have worked out beautiful. Some have made us say what were we thinking but that's what comes with the territory no one said it was going to be anything to discern but I think that fact that we are taking chances just opens up doors for people and we are patient I think that's The one thing we have learned most about anything be patient with people who are patient with themselves who actually want to get out of a struggle who want to get out their past and kind of want to recreate who they are,” Rodney White, a Superchefs restaurant partner, said.
Forest Baptist Church is also doing their part for the Job One Program.
“Walk along side of you that's what we are called to do as followers of Jesus just walking along aside people encourage the helping them wit the challenges of life that we all have,” Alex Tenenbaum, with Forest Baptist Church. said.
In 2019, The U-S Department of Justice said that Kentucky has the ninth highest rate of incarceration in the nation. As of February… Kentucky had more than 23 thousand people locked up. It’s a lot of people that “Seed” can help.
Dan Goyette, the branch manager of the Western region's division of re-entry services, said, “I do think it's that personal relationship that Seed to Oak and Job 1 form with that client because that's that support that they need they been lacking to try and get that full time gainful very good sustainable employment .”
The group recently opened its new 8,000-square-foot headquarters on Broad.
They hope to use it to help more people.
“This new facility will be used as a collaboration space to invite faith leaders business leaders civic leaders to dream up how we might work together to address neighborhood issues and neighborhood needs it also serves a place for training we have a number of business partners who are that are even looking at using the space for their staff's development,” Nathan Ivey, with Seed to Oaks, said.
The organization is faith-based. The message they want to send is that they are people-based. It’s open to everyone and is rooting for the under-dog.
“Give that person a chance to show you who they are today not what happened to them yesterday but if we are truly going to be believers and we do believe in people we do believe in our community we do believe in mobilizing our local church and community to be able to say I’m going to open my arms to anyone and be able to support them.”