GALAX, Va. – Thousands of people are being released from correctional facilities soon, and area organizations are ready to help them start a safe and secure life.
Staff with the Virginia Department of Corrections said people who served time will be released over the next six weeks: About 4,000 people will be released by the end of August, and 100 of those people are being released in Roanoke City and Roanoke County. 24 people will be released in Pulaski, nine in Floyd, and four in Radford.
PUSH Ministries, an organization in Southwest Virginia, is helping the people being released transition and overcome difficulties they may face along the way.
Sean Spence said he knows the difficulties of transitioning from time behind bars and not knowing how to start.
“I’ve been there. I walked out of jail with nothing,” Spence said.
Spence also battles another obstacle: addiction.
“It’s a challenge; every day is a challenge; there are struggles,” Spence said.
Spence said he had been out of jail for eight years and got his life on track but relapsed during the pandemic.
“My dad died, and I relapsed when Covid hit,” Spence said. “If it weren’t for organizations like this and volunteers, I would not have made it this far.”
Spence credited organizations like PUSH Ministries in Galax for helping him turn his life around.
PUSH Ministries began operating in 2007, and pastors like Jill Burcham are working with the people to get their new lives kickstarted.
Burcham’s goal is to help anyone recently released or those who need help finding shelter, jobs, or struggling with addiction.
“We help people, many times, people don’t have social security cards, they don’t have an I.D., they don’t have food stamps. We go through that whole process,” Burcham said. “We don’t want people letting their head carry them to a place where it doesn’t need to go.”
Spence and other people that have received services in the past now volunteer with the organization and talk to people dealing with life trials.
“It feels good to give back. It does. It helps me to help them,” Spence said.