The program will not be up and operational until the end of the year, but it is already causing a bit of a stir on Elmira's Southside. "Saving Grace Ministries" will be operating a temporary housing facility for newly released parolees. Our Bill Mich has more after visiting the organization's open house on Saturday.
ELMIRA, N.Y. -- Saving Grace Ministries purchased the home at 107 E. Hudson Street in Elmira, but it will be a few months before anyone will be living inside.
Saving Grace Ministries Board President Matt George said, "We're hoping to engage the community, mainly churches and individuals who want to volunteer and help us with that renovation process, both financially and as volunteers."
The organization is hoping to have the home finished by the end of the year so it can begin to serve its real purpose, a transitional home for newly released parolees in Chemung County.
This facility will be designed to help six to eight clients at a time, for time periods between three to five months, to learn the skills needed to reach their ultimate goal.
George said, "Get out and become and independent, productive member of the community. Hopefully finding gainful employment and going on with their life, turning their life around."
For at least a few years, the facility, known as the Grace House, will not be accepting sex offenders into the program. But that is not easing the concerns of local neighbors.
While they declined to speak on camera, they did say they were unhappy that the program would be bringing these men to their neighborhood.
Officials with Saving Grace Ministries say they understand where people are coming from but that they should have no fears over the men who will be living in the home.
George said, "These guys are under 24-hour supervision while they are at the house. They won't be allowed to hang out in the neighborhood or just wander the streets. When they come and go, they will be going to their appointments and counseling and so forth and then coming back here."
And eventually graduating the program, and if all goes according to plan, successfully rejoining society.