We were honored to host a group from Leadership Charleston for a tour of Turning Leaf last week. Leadership Charleston is a yearlong program that engages participants in experiences that help them become better community leaders. The Chamber has been running this program for over 45 years – offering an intensive and up-close look at the most challenging issues and opportunities facing our region. The group spends one of their day-long sessions focused on the criminal justice system.
With two-thirds of people re-arrested within three years of release, prison reentry is a huge challenge, not just for Charleston, but for all cities across the country. That’s why we were thrilled that the group spent two hours of their day with us, to learn about how we’re equipping people with the skills to succeed after prison and the role that organizations like Turning Leaf have in the widespread effort to end mass incarceration. Solving the issue of recidivism is an important part of reforming our criminal justice system.
“These are the people who will go on to hold prominent positions in our community,” said Amy Barch, Turning Leaf’s Founder and Executive Director. “They’ll be making decisions that impact policy and economics for years to come. To be able to show them exactly what we’re doing here is invaluable.”
Amy also happens to be a Leadership Charleston alumnus. She was in the process of starting Turning Leaf as she was finishing the program in 2012. At that time, Leadership Charleston’s criminal justice day didn’t include a spotlight on prison reentry.
With students acting as tour guides, the 45 professionals spent approximately 90 minutes learning about five key pieces of the Turning Leaf program, including:
- Turning Leaf’s history, from its humble beginnings at the Charleston County Jail to its current home on Leeds Avenue with eight full time staff;
- The importance of role plays when practicing the 25 social skills taught to each Turning Leaf student;
- How crucial it is for a reentry program to run a social enterprise with a specific purpose, as well as compassion and professionalism;
- A Turning Leaf graduate testimonial; and
- Turning Leaf’s Founder and Executive Director’s vision for a proven reentry program that can be replicated across South Carolina, and eventually the country.
Collaboration between like-minded community organizations is key to solving complex, systemic issues. We are always excited to share our program with people interested in changing the world for the better.
Interested in scheduling a tour of the facility for your professional group? Contact Director of Marketing and Communication, Leah Rhyne, at firstname.lastname@example.org.