Volunteer Group Praises President's Faith-Based Initiative - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

01/15/04

Volunteer Group Praises President's Faith-Based Initiative

Diane Easley faced a group of inmates and asked "What are some of the situations that have made you feel depressed, guilty, angry"?

Twice a week, Easley visits the Harrison County Jail. She heads up "Alive Ministries," a group of volunteers who minister to female inmates who want to change their lives. She helps the Chaplain with his "Life Learning Program".

"You didn't say you wanted to be in jail. That was not your plan. So what we need to do is take it all the way back to where you got off track. This whole program is about you not making the same mistakes," Easley told the women.

Teresa D'Angelo made a mistake by getting involved in drugs. She signed up for this program, and calls Easley a blessing.

"I believe it's a gift from the Lord, that he sends people out here that really cares enough to want to get us to change our lives and our direction".

Easley received a federal grant last year to start-up the program.

"None of the funding can be used for religious materials, so we keep it very separated. But learning how to get ready for a job, or teaching parenting skills, or money management, those can be managed from the grant".

Easley hopes to receive more funding, so she can help more women overcome their addictions, deal with issues like self esteem and anger, and learn life skills like parenting and money management. She also wants to expand the program to George and Jackson Counties.

D'Angelo said, "At first I didn't feel that I could get close to the Lord again, and be forgiven because I've done a lot of stuff, but she's shown us that we are accepted and we are loved".

Easley said, "These are incredible women who have fallen through the cracks. Their plan was to make something of themselves, but a lot of them just didn't have the basic skills or the basic self esteem, so they went in all the wrong directions. We're hoping to correct that".

In February, "Alive Ministries" wants to start a program focusing on crime victims to help them repair damage to their homes and give them emotional support.

by Trang Pham-Bui

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