Commodities, community corrections work together

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It’s a unique partnership that helps two segments in-need: families in need of supplemental food and clients of the adult community corrections program in need of community service hours. Both, in need of a hand up, are finding help from the same agency.

“This is a wonderful partnership,” said LaNelle Godsey, Community Services Director. “This partnership not only helps the commodities program, it helps Community Corrections clients meet their (community service) requirements.”

Godsey’s department, Community Services, oversees programs such as LIHEAP (Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program), Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) programs, and commodities.

Each month, the Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency (UCHRA) hosts commodities distribution events in at least half the 14 counties the agency serves; rotating to the remaining counties the following month.

While COVID-19 has created the need for a few minor adjustments, the commodities distribution team has remained relatively unchanged until last month. UCHRA staff members, including the local county coordinator, participate in the distribution, additional support is needed to quickly and efficiently serve clients. With the start of the new year, UCHRA Community Corrections clients in need of community service hours are now helping out with distribution events.

Volunteers from the corrections program receive community service credit for their involvement. These volunteers are nonviolent offenders who are actively working to move beyond their sentence or conviction while assisting some of our region’s most vulnerable residents.

“The feedback I’ve gotten has been very positive,” said Cheryl Davis, Community Corrections/Intervention Director.

“Sometimes, as Cheryl mentioned, former clients continue volunteering because they realize the need and enjoy giving back to their community,” Godsey added.

The new partnership began last month in the counties of Clay, Cumberland, Van Buren, and White. There are plans to extend to DeKalb, Overton, Pickett, Putnam, and Warren.

Funded under an agreement with the State of Tennessee, the Adult Community Corrections Program provides an alternative to incarceration for non-violent felony offenders sentenced by Criminal Court Judges. Funded by the Tennessee Department of Correction, this program serves the 13th, 15th, and 31st judicial districts. (Fentress, Macon, Smith, Wilson, and Trousdale counties excluded).

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