“It’s a combined effort,” Halifax County Sheriff Wes Tripp said in a recent interview. “I’ve been looking for something to introduce to help our inmates, to help those who have issues.”
Tripp said participation in the program, which begins Wednesday, is voluntary.
He hopes it will be a benefit and the inmates who opt to participate will be provided Bibles and Celebrate Recovery workbooks, which are specifically geared for inmates. “Our hope is at some point once they’re released, it will prevent them from returning to jail and get them in GED and recovery programs.”
(For more information or to volunteer contact Marshall at 252-532-2280)
Right now the program is set up for female inmates at the jail. “We’re hoping down the road there will be some male volunteers from Valley to help with the male inmates,” the sheriff said.
The program comes at no cost to taxpayers, Tripp said. “This is a way to give back to the community. My goal is to cut down on repeat offenders returning to jail.”
Deborah Marshall, the Valley Celebrate Recovery ministry leader and Kathleen Robinson of Lighthouse Ministries will be the ones reaching out to the inmates, Tripp said in a statement earlier this week.
Marshall said Thursday she is excited to begin this chapter of Celebrate Recovery, which was started at the church last May and meets on Monday evenings.
“There’s such a need in the area,” she said. “I have a passion for it. Being in jail, there is a feeling of being alone.”
Celebrate Recovery, she said, gives the inmates someone to talk to.
During the Monday programs at the church, Marshall said, the women come in and discuss issues not only centered on addiction, but depression, anxiety, anger, codependency. “Anything they struggle with.”
While the 12 Steps are taught, Marshall said Celebrate Recovery is a Christ centered program. “We feel we can give them something, some feeling of hope, try to help them build a relationship with Christ and see a change in their life.”
The Monday sessions at the church have been going well, Marshall said. “We’ve got several who are clean and sober since coming who have completely turned over their lives. It’s really helping. If we can build relationships and let them know they’re not alone, we’re hoping we can make a difference.”
Marshall said while in the beginning the focus will be on female inmates, the church is hoping to find volunteers to minister to the men. “It’s hard to get volunteers. There are more cellblocks for men. We need more volunteers.”
Robinson, who has already been visiting inmates, is the perfect companion for the program, Marshall said. “She’s going to be my two-by-two. She’s does the Lighthouse Ministries on Thursdays. God places people on my path.”
Robinson is also ready for the challenge. “I’ve been talking to them on different topics,” she said of the inmates, “trying to get them to have hope.”
Robinson has been mentoring and ministering to the inmates for the past three weeks. “Celebrate Recovery is another resource. Most of them are there because of alcohol or drug addiction. These are young women.”
Robinson began taking an interest in jail ministry because she observed many of the women are abused. “I took a young lady to court and saw a man being overbearing to a lady. God said go talk to the sheriff.”
What Robinson hopes the inmates will gain is simple. “What I pray is they become involved with churches, learn about God and depend on God. He is the answer.”