Lynchburg Interfaith Outreach Gives Released Prisoners Ride Home
Lynchburg, VA - Interfaith Outreach is giving people a fresh start during their first days of freedom, and volunteers say one act of kindness is making a huge difference.
It was 4:45 a.m. Thursday, and Roger Paul looks like a proud father waiting for his children to come home.
"I only come when I know people who I've met inside," Paul said looking at the garage door in front of him.
This isn't an airport or a train station, it's Lynchburg's Blue Ridge Regional Jail where three inmates are being released. Paul greets each one by name.
Raymond Terry's wearing the same white T-shirt and blue jeans he had on 15 months ago when police arrested him for drug possession. But Terry says he has a very different outlook on life.
"I'm looking forward to really getting out there and doing my best to succeed," he said with his back to the jail's brick wall.
"They're walking out of darkness into light, walking out of bondage into freedom," Paul added.
But they're also walking into a world where the odds are stacked against them. Paul says nearly 9 out of 10 Virginians locked up will return to jail.
That's where Interfaith Outreach's Progressive Release Program steps in.
"They need a plan for how to change their life," said Shaun Farmer, another volunteer.
Interfaith Outreach will help Janice Motley get in touch with an alcohol recovery program. But on this day, she gets two bags of groceries, a hygiene bag and a long-awaited ride home.
"They've been a big help," Motley said, referring to the organization's volunteers.
Come Monday morning, Terry will head to the Oxford home, a group home for other men overcoming alcohol and drug addictions. Paul says the Department of Corrections will cover the first six weeks of rent, hopefully giving Terry enough time to find a job.
But on this day, he heads home to hug his grandmother, the first in a very long time
And as Paul pulls out of the driveway, he explains why he's been volunteering for the last five years.
"They have been forgotten and forsaken by most," he said.