The steady stream of reports about crime and violence in Chattanooga threatens to upend the truly singular community so many of us have worked so hard to create. However, it also represents a totally unacceptable level of hardship for some of our most vulnerable citizens. And while the debate on how to stop the madness continues, Chattanooga Endeavors has quietly reformed itself in an effort to once again play a more active role in the effort to improve public safety and to build a better tomorrow for all.
We can’t afford there to be gaps in services for people like Madeline Baker who recently reached out to us from prison:
I looked for [Chattanooga Endeavors] before I came to prison and was unable to locate it.
She’s located us now. But it took returning to prison. Had funding shortfalls not forced us to discontinue our employment program, chances are she would have not disrupted the lives of her victims, taxed the limited resources of her loved ones, destroyed value for society and ended up back behind bars where she is now trying to figure how she’s going to rebuild her life when she returns home.
More Than 3,000 Helped
The unrelenting fact is that people like Madeline come home from prison every day. And most of the time they are full of hope for a new beginning. But without a little help when it’s needed most, this hope all too often gives way to desperation and a return to crime. Especially when faced with the practical needs for food, clothing and shelter and when confronted with the tough realities of an all too often unforgiving society – the importance of a simple open hand and a little well-thought-out assistance can’t be overstated.
That’s what Paul Crum and more than 3,000 others like him got from Chattanooga Endeavors. Paul messaged us on Facebook when he learned that we were rebuilding the organization that helped to change his life.
It’s good that you’re starting Endeavors back up. I hang my certificate in my business with my tattooing license – something I am proud of to this day. I think about that experience often, how much it has helped me through the years to be who and where I am today.
A Department of Justice review of 1,611 Chattanooga Endeavors participants found that they were more than twice as likely to be employed than a comparison group, received wages that were approximately $5,300 higher and were roughly half as likely to violate their supervision.
Putting Our Experience to Work
Since its inception as Dismas House almost thirty years ago, Chattanooga Endeavors has operated a variety of successful and highly regarded programs to address some of the most challenging issues prisoners face when returning to society, including homelessness, substance abuse, illiteracy and unemployment. The premise for most of our work has always been that public safety can be improved by improving the life circumstances of those who are the most likely to commit crimes – namely, those who have done so before. Taking the desperation out of their lives is a reliable and common sense strategy that effectively breaks the cycle of crime.
Our programs are restorative in nature and aim to provide real access to the resources former offenders need to become active members of their families and contributive members of society once again. As one of our participants from many years ago recently said,
You provided direct help, not indirect help. And that’s what I needed at the time. Not a resume but a job.
What we’ve achieved in the past makes us exceptionally well positioned to help address the growing concerns about crime and violence that threaten our community. However, instead of focusing exclusively on employment, we’ll be fostering programs that address a wide range of issues that former offenders and their families routinely face.
A New Chattanooga Endeavors
Actually we’ve already started. While expanding the church-based mentoring program for prisoners and their families that Madeline joined (Stephen’s Table), during the past several months we’ve established a peer-to-peer helpline for recently released prisoners (Re:conx), developed a support group for families with loved ones in prison (Lamplight) and explored the feasibility of both a post-secondary tutoring program (Pathways) and a community collaboration based on work we have been involved with in Milwaukee (Community Building Chattanooga).
But we need your help to get a proper start. We need to raise $73,800 to create the systems, develop the outreach, purchase the equipment and form the team to support operations and grow the organization.
Every penny counts. So please give as you can and help us to rebuild Chattanooga Endeavors and to create a better tomorrow for all.Donate Online
If you prefer to make a gift by check, please make it out to Chattanooga Endeavors and mail to:
Attn: Startup Fund
PO Box 3351
Chattanooga, TN 37404-0351
For more information, please call Tim Dempsey at (423) 266-1888.
Chattanooga Endeavors is a nonprofit organization. To the extent allowable by law, all donations are tax-deductible and will help us improve public safety by creating second chances for former offenders and their families.
Charitable solicitation registration: CO5740