Seven people get second chance with C-STAND program in Conway - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Seven people get second chance with C-STAND program in Conway

CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - While there were speeches, hugs, and pictures, Thursday nights C-S.T.A.N.D ceremony was not your ordinary graduation.

"I feel good. I did something a lot of people couldn't do, said Michael Vereen, a participant of the program. 

The ceremony was instead, the start of a second chance for seven people.

"Honestly, I can't say why they picked me or chose me, but I'm glad they did choose me and give me a second chance, said Vereen.

Vereen is one of the seven people given that second chance with the C-S.T.A.N.D, Conway-Starting Toward a New Direction, program in Conway.

He and the others were given a choice; join the 16 week program and change their lives, or pay for the crimes they are accused of committing.

All opted in, and got job training, addiction help, and some even got their GED.

"They're not in jail, they're law abiding citizens, and they're working, said Bill Nettles, with the US Attorneys Office. They're now productive members of society as opposed to a huge financial drain on society.

It's much better to have productive citizens than to throw everybody in jail, and that's the direction these seven folks could have gone, said Alys Lawson, Conway Mayor.

Now more than half of the people in the program have jobs, and the other half are more prepared than they've ever been.

Some like Michael Vereen, even found solace in something they never did before.

"I can be qualified as a lot of things, but at the end of the day I am somebody, He said. I am me. I stand for my name and what my name represents."

So with a new toolbox of skills and knowledge, each is on their way of a new direction in life. One that won't be easy, but is clearer than ever.

Conway's mayor says the city is very happy and excited about this program. It will not only consider continuing it, but making it even bigger in the future.

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