HUTCHINSON, Kan. (KSNW) – Hutchinson is making waves in the recovery community. New Beginnings is a community development organization that started as a homeless shelter 30 years ago.
“We started building affordable housing to offset homelessness, and from that point, we started seeing so much of what we were doing had to do with addiction,” said Shara Gonzalez, New Beginnings CEO and president.
After seeing the need, they started taking the organization to higher levels by creating a transitional jobs program.
“It’s working with people to get them ready for permanent employment,” Gonzalez said.
William Baggett is the kitchen manager and program graduate with over two years of sobriety.
“I was at one time that broken person that didn’t think I would be able to do anything with my life again, and through the program, they showed me I was capable,” said Baggett.
He calls New Beginnings and the Transitional Jobs Progam (TJP) his safe place.
“I didn’t have to worry about coming to work and seeing someone else using because we are all in a sobriety program together because and that right there is worth more than its weight in gold for someone trying to fight for a better life,” Baggett said.
The TJP lasts about six months.
“The first three months are dealing with barriers, and the last three months are dealing with where you want to work and the kind of skills you need what the trajectory for permanent employment,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez says they have a 70% success rate of people moving into employment, and 42% of current employees are graduates of the program.
Arron Whittington serves as the head of security, and he is also in recovery.
“We’re trying to change the image on what people think on security,” said Wittington.
A big part of his job is de-escalation, only contacting the police as a last resort. The focus is on recovery and building a better life.
“I’m not going to say it’s easy because it’s not, there are days that are truly tough, but there is always somebody there for,” said Baggett.
Right now, TJP has a contract with The Substance Abuse Center of Kansas in Wichita, providing meals, laundry service, and security to their residential unit. Gonzalez says they are working on a model where the program can work in any community.
To see more Recovery Week stories by KSN’s Eddie Randle, click here.