Jasper Non-Profit Helps Women Find Success after Jail, Addiction and Family Loss
JASPER, Tenn. — For many women, life after jail can be tough.
Drug addiction, family fights and losing child custody battles are often a reality.
Now a new non-profit in Jasper is giving these women the support they need to once again find employment and mental and emotional stability.
In this week's Pay It Forward, Jessica Harthorn surprises the woman behind Champion Commons.
In the last decade, Alyson Riley has mentored hundreds of women through her jail ministry in Marion County, but she soon realized the need for continued support after their incarceration was just as important.
Now she's offering women a safe place to open up about life's challenges, while teaching them life skills.
For most of her life Karen Boozer says she's battled prescription drug abuse.
"After my marriage ended, I didn't know what to do anymore," said Karen.
Today, Karen says she can't imagine life without Alyson Riley and the women in her faith-based support group, Champion Commons.
"It's just such a loving group of women, we love Alyson so much and each one of these women are like my family," said Karen.
Some of the women are seen here in this photo with Karen.
Delores Kelly, standing right behind her, has had her back since she started the program a few months ago.
She teaches parenting skills and mental health classes for Champion Commons.
"Some of the women we work with currently have been released and may have lost their children, so I teach them a class that helps them get back on track to get their children back," said Delores.
Now Delores and the women of Champion Commons want to give back to Alyson.
They surprised her in the middle of class.
"Alyson, on behalf of the McMahan law Firm and Newschannel9, we would like to Pay It Forward by presenting you with this $500," surprised Delores.
"Are you kidding me?" said Alyson.
"Hold your hand out. 1, 2, 3, 4, $500. We appreciate the hard work, the dedication, the time you give everyone. We love you!" hugged Alyson.
"I love you Delores!" said Alyson.
After her standing ovation the women gathered in prayer, heads down, holding hands.
Then it was time for food and fellowship.
Alyson tells us the year-long program empowers women to tackle a variety of issues.
Recovery classes can focus on over-eating, substance abuse and finding a full time job, and many of the women who will complete the program say they plan on coming back as mentors.
"It is a proud mama moment that I've been waiting for. It is so exciting and it pays it forward to the younger girls and says it works!" said Alyson.
But the reach of the Champion Commons program is just beginning. Alyson's next step is to open a women's shelter in Marion County.
Do you know someone who deserves $500 cash for helping others? Nominate them here!