1. THE NEED
A. Most women who exit the Tennessee prison system have no safe place to live when they are paroled or have served out their terms. Because their crimes often destroy family relationships, they are left homeless and hopeless. If they are granted parole, the Department of Correction will not release them until a proper home plan is provided. Our goal is to meet these immediate as well as long-term needs.
B. For this reason, we will open The Oak Cottage For Women. It will be a residential program where women can be loved, mentored, educated, and provided life skills in order to re-enter society with dignity as productive, empowered citizens.
C. In order to establish this house, we will need to raise funds from grants, fund raisers, foundations and individuals. For long-term sustainability, we will continue to find innovative funding solutions and create community awareness.
D. Initially, by May 2019, we want to purchase or lease a residential facility in Williamson or south Davidson county. In this, we will provide the first critical step for former offenders in healing and learning.
E. Our desire is to be on the Approved list with the Department of Correction to assist in the much needed housing for women that are on parole and need an approved facility.
2. OUR CORE VALUES
A. We are a faith based organization. We have a mission to love and meet the needs of women formerly imprisoned in the Tennessee prison system. We will respond to these needs with professional programs and prayer. We will support and strengthen our residents physically, emotionally and spiritually.
B. Our name, The Oak Cottage For Women, is Biblically based on
Isaiah, chapter 61, verses 1-3,
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion. To bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called Oaks of Righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor”.
In Psalm, chapter 1, verses 1-3 we read,
“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers”.
This reminds us that it will take a season for these women to successfully transition back into society and independent living.
C. The Oak Shelter For Women will be a place where Jesus is seen and known, through the help of a compassionate, committed staff.
D. In this program for women we will encourage service, respect, responsibility, financial stewardship, integrity, accountability, creativity and commitment from each woman. In this way, the women will be headed toward a more stable future.
3. Our Services and Long Term Solutions
A. The recidivism rate for formerly incarcerated women is staggering. The recidivism rate for faith-based facilities is much lower. Therefore, our goal is to staff the house with responsible teachers, dedicated mentors and volunteers.
B. We will partner with local organizations to educate and advocate for success. We will teach employment skills, computer proficiency and financial responsibility, strongly encouraging continuing education.
C. We will provide transportation to job interviews, employment and parole meetings.
D. We believe volunteers are vital to the success of our organization. We will actively recruit and train passionate volunteers, skilled in specific tasks.
E. Within three years, we will identify a social enterprise that will train the residents in useful work skills. We plan to implement this as soon as possible.
F. With a family atmosphere, we will provide spiritual training through prayer, Bible study, and Godly role models.
There is a great need in our community. We have women who have lived a life of dysfunction, crime, arrest, and prison time. Now they are being released back into our community. What will prevent them from repeating those old habits that could return them to prison? And where will they live while they are being trained? The answer is… The Oak Cottage for Women. Not only will our program benefit these hurting women; it will make Middle Tennessee a better place to live. For these women will begin their lives with a greater sense of community, self worth and an optimistic outlook.