Samaritan Saturday: Carbondale non-profit empowers those in need
March 13, 2021
The Center for Empowerment and Justice is a grassroots community-driven organization that seeks to empower individuals in a variety of ways, thus working to find diamonds in the rough.
The Center, which opened in 2016, connects individuals to legal services, helps people transitioning from prison to civilian life and supports local artists.
“It’s an evolving issue of how people from different walks of life face challenges, both physical and emotional, and come together as a family to support themselves and the Center, and to take control of their lives,” founder Jim Chapman said.
Chapman is currently battling cancer and receives treatment at Southern Illinois Healthcare, so much of the work of keeping the business running every-day falls to volunteers , many of whom have experienced first-hand the challenges the center seeks to help.
Some of these volunteers include grants coordinator Sara Chamberlain, Elissia Kimball who works in the print shop, social worker Alan Hicks, Stanley Haywood who works security, maintenance worker James Casey and “jack of all trades” Avery.
The Center offers financial grants and assistance to those in need, as well as a computer lab where clients look for jobs or improve their IT skills.
“There have been a lot of people here that have used the space as a computer lab and workspace, that’s what I used it for originally,” Kimball said.
The Center also has sewing machines and offers sewing classes and a center to work on bike repairs and other maintenance projects. This all helps people develop skills that will benefit them in their job search, as well as benefiting them in their daily lives.
The Center offers legal advice to those who might need it, but who would be unable to afford the aid otherwise.
“Jim Chapman is a trial lawyer and he’s very interested in helping people reform and overcome the difficulties associated with being in prison or released from prison,” Kimball said.
There are several ways that SIU students and other community members might be able to help the Center continue with its mission of helping others.
Some of the supplies that are needed at the Center include clothing, hygiene products, and just about any type of printing paper.
You can also volunteer in person, but the Center requests that you call ahead of time to let them know.
They can be reached Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. at the number (618)-457-2777.
“The word is empowerment, and quite honestly, all of us here have been empowered by this,” Avery said. “Our lives are just that much better now because we got involved with the center and we are trying to do the same thing for other people.”
Staff reporter Elizabeth Hamilton can be reached at [email protected] To stay up to