BINGHAMTON, N.Y. - A fairly new non-profit organization is preparing to take the next step in its mission to offer opportunities to former prisoners and those in recovery.
Southern Tier Second Chance Housing was formed roughly 2 years ago with a mission of creating supportive housing and finding jobs for people leaving prison or coming out of substance abuse treatment.
The group has launched a Go Fund Me campaign in an effort to raise $50,000 to buy its first home at a foreclosure auction and then renovate it for its clients to live in.
In the process, it plans to use skilled tradesmen to train these clients in the areas of carpentry, plumbing and electrical so that they can later seek further employment.
Others will be given starter jobs doing maintenance once the homes are finished.
Second Chance Housing has already been working with clients, not just with finding jobs and housing, but with life skills as well.
The organization's secretary and life coach Anthony Ephirim-Donkor, Junior says they recently had success with a man who was down on his luck. "It took the effort of all of us to get this gentleman to come out of his shell and to realize, 'Hey, there are good people here.' And we were able to slowly but surely bring him along to the point where he started to feel good about himself, he had self-confidence again and he was able to go out and get a job."
Board Member Ismail Shahid says, "The difficulties that they face. The obstacles that are in their way. This program will stand as a bridge toward getting to the other side of those obstacles."
Currently, the board members meet at a home in the NoMa district of Binghamton.
City Councilwoman Dani Cronce is the president and Ismail Shahid, who is a plumbing and heating tradesman, will serve as foreman on their projects.
Binghamton University Vice President for Student Affairs Randall Edouard joined the effort after learning about it in the Town Gown Advisory Board that he co-chairs.
He believes it could be an excellent opportunity for student engagement. "The students actually live in the community. We have between 6,000 and 7,000 students in the community. So, they can the word out, promote, marketing, you name it. The students are going to play a huge role in this."
President Dani Cronce says, "It's not enough to just give somebody a job application and say, 'Here, go get yourself a job.' What if they don't know how to follow a schedule? What if they have anger issues? What if they have addiction problems? What if they've been in jail for 15 years and don't have a clue how to live? You have to build these people up, you have to give them the direction. There's nothing set before them. They don't have a path. What Second Chance Housing does, is it gives these people a path to a better life.">
Cronce says Second Chance Housing has already developed relationships with the Urban League, United Way, Metro Interfaith and FIBI Ministries.
To donate visit the Go Fund Me page here: