VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Nov. 7, 2022 – The Virginia Natural Gas Foundation has committed $40,000 to Garden of Hope to assist non-violent offenders and formerly incarcerated individuals with transitional support services that lead to economic and social stability.
The “Second Chances” program helps ensure the participants' success by helping them adapt from prison to the workforce and be reintegrated into society. These services include transportation, meals, transitional housing and required work clothing, as well as classes on interpersonal skills and financial literacy.
"This donation to Garden of Hope is part of our overall commitment to enrich and help create equity in our communities," said Robert Duvall, president of Virginia Natural Gas. "The important work they are doing gives everyone, regardless of their past, a chance to be successful as they work toward a stronger future for themselves and their families while also building stronger communities.”
The “Second Chances” program helps non-violent individuals living with the stigma of being labeled an ex-offender with employment, housing, substance and addiction issues, and other systematic barriers while providing the opportunity for a positive re-entry experience into society.
Like Alton Drew of Norfolk, who battled substance abuse for nearly 40 years. Addicted to alcohol and cocaine, he was homeless, jobless, and penniless after serving a prison sentence. He needed a second chance and Garden of Hope, he said, provided him with opportunities he never thought he would have.
“I entered an 18-month drug program back in 2008 and worked on getting myself together,” said Drew. “I was able to get into public housing and reboot my life. And most importantly, I’ve been clean for 14 years.”
Now at 64 years old, Drew has one part-time and two full-time jobs, and works with a team of ex-offenders, speaking to teens and young offenders in jails, schools and detention centers about the pitfalls of drug addiction and crime.
“I tell them my story and what I went through and reassure them that this is not the life they want,” he said. “Without the help of Garden of Hope, I would not have had the confidence to do that.”
Drew is only one of many success stories coming out of the Garden of Hope. Philip Inabinette, program director of Second Chances, said the donation will help with reentry as those returning to communities face the challenges and consequences of incarceration, including finding employment and housing.
“This donation from Virginia Natural Gas means that the Garden of Hope will be able to continue serving our vulnerable neighbors and provide safe, stable housing, impactful programs and help fulfill our vision of improving the quality of life for our underserved communities,” said Inabinette. “We will be able to expand our housing services and provide impactful programs and support for men, women and families who need our help while overcoming homelessness, addiction and instability.”
To learn more about how VNG is enriching and investing in our communities, visit www.virginianaturalgas.com/news/corporate-partnerships.
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