David was glad to be out of jail and anxious to get back to his job in a restaurant. However, he was having severe pains in his hands, feet, and back, making it difficult to be on his feet for an entire shift. He went to the energy room to get a diagnosis and treatment but was unsuccessful. Through our church’s new wrap-around services program, we referred David to the Athens Nurses Clinic. They helped him get an appointment at the appropriate clinic in Piedmont hospital. He was pleased to have somewhere to turn. We will stay in touch with David at least until he has his day in court.
Several years ago the Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement (AADM) started the Freedom Fund to bail people who have been accused of non-violent crimes out of the Athens-Clarke County jail. This is based on the belief that people accused but not convicted of a crime shouldn’t be locked up simply because they can’t afford bail. Robert Foster, chair of the Mission Committee’s Racial Justice Task Force (RJTF), approached AADM and asked if there was anything our church could do to help with this effort. AADM President Mokah Jasmine Johnson asked if we would provide wrap-around services to help people, once they were bailed out, find the services they need until their day in court.
If you become part of OSUMC’s wrap-around program, you might do one or more of the following:
Be a buddy, a friend and contact person, to someone out on bail from their release to their court date
Provide or arrange (e.g., Uber) transportation from jail, to court, etc.
Explain and connect the person to specific resources (e.g., Mercy Clinic, Georgia Legal Services, job opportunities) and follow up as needed
AADM volunteer Marisue Hilliard is heading up this effort. A subgroup of our RJTF met with Marisue to identify what services to include in our wrap around efforts. Under her leadership we created an extensive resource list of people, organizations, agencies, and other support groups. We’ve conferred with several people to better understand how we can match clients AADM bail out with the proper agency/organization. For example, we are gaining expertise in understanding which agencies in Athens help with employment, health, mental health, and housing. We plan to provide transportation when needed. In some cases it will be a simple matter of giving people a phone number or an address, as we did for David.
Other folks will need more assistance in taking advantage of the help agencies offer. Charles is developmentally challenged and having difficulty understanding the charges against him, including driving without a license. He is confused and anxious about his future. His public defender recommended to his sister Florence that he get an advocate to see him through this difficult time. Florence called AADM and they referred her to us. We are working to establish a trusting relationship with Charles and Florence and plan to wrap our arms around both of them to help them navigate the court system and to help Charles get his driver’s license as his court date draws near.
If you are interested in being a part of this effort, we are having a training on Monday, October 11 from 6:30 – 8:00 in our Fellowship Hall. Our own Jocelyn Crumpton and a representative from the Salvation Army will share their expertise. We will explain the resource list, and solicit your ideas to add to it. Our court watchers John Vodicka and Steve Williams will also share their insights into this process. If you plan to attend, please let Lew Allen know. He can be reached at email@example.com or at 706-224-1418. He would also be happy to answer any questions.