KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A faith-based nonprofit opened a new facility in Knoxville Monday.
Men of Valor is a faith-based nonprofit that helps ex-offenders re-enter the community. The nonprofit has opened a new facility in Knoxville called Valor Way.
State and community leaders gathered for the grand opening of Valor Way. Many of whom are excited about the new re-entry facility as dozens gathered for the ribbon cutting.
Some of those in attendance said without these types of organizations, they wouldn’t be in the position they are in today.
“During my drug addiction, it landed me incarcerated and I was in and out of prisons for ten years,” Anthony Charles said.
He said his life changed in 2006 when he connected with Men of Valor while he was still in prison.
The Tennessee Department of Correction Commissioner Lisa Helton said at the podium, “Programs like Men of Valor give people hope and they give them an opportunity to take a different path.”
This was the case for Charles as he now steps into the role of program director for Valor Way.
“I really want the men who are coming out of incarceration to have a great place to land, know that they’re loved and supported, and know that there’s hope. There’s hope at this campus,” he said.
“The old Dogan-Gaither Motor Court Hotel first opened in the early 1950s during the days of segregation. It hosted patrons such as Ray Charles, Cab Calloway and five Freedom Riders,” Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs said.
The building’s completion was also delayed earlier this year after 20 lbs of copper wire were stolen, HVAC units were damaged and electric wires were cut. However, the building’s damages were fixed, sheetrock was replaced, insulation was reinstalled, low volt access was rewired and walls were repainted.
Now finished, the building will provide housing for 30 ex-offenders who will receive counseling, work placement opportunities and transition skills training.
“It’s gone from just an ugly neglected building to this beautiful jewel we see here today, and that physical transformation of this property is symbolic of the transformation we’re going to see in the men served here,” Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon said.
The building itself is owned by the Knoxville-based criminal justice reform nonprofit, Fourth Purpose Foundation, whose founder, Josh Smith, had his own struggles.
“When I came out of prison, there was no housing,” Smith said. “Because of my background, my wife was even kicked out of her government housing.”
Both Smith and Charles explained that programs like this helped turn their lives around and can do the same for many more.
“So often men get out and don’t really have a safe place to land, the community’s support and so that’s what we hope to be able to give men the opportunity,” Charles said.
Ex-offenders who go through the program will live in the apartments for one year as they transition back into the community.
Valor Way is looking for volunteers for their outreach programs, visit the Men of Valor website by clicking here to learn more.