Grand Strand man starts organization to help former inmates get fresh start

Published: Feb. 2, 2022 at 3:50 PM EST
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HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) – A Horry County man wants to help those who have been released from behind bars and get them back into the workforce.

Antonious NeSmith knows from personal experience what it’s like to try and re-enter society after being incarcerated.

It motivated him to start the “Get Out to Stay Out” program to help give former inmates a fresh start.

MORE INFORMATION | Get Out to Stay Out

The non-profit organization provides re-entry services such as reinstating voting rights, accessing affordable housing and connecting with second chance employers who are committed to hiring qualified candidates even if they have a conviction on their record.

NeSmith said the re-entry process starts before the person even gets out of jail.

About six months before an inmate’s release, they will work with a caseworker to prepare an action plan that will go into effect immediately after being released. NeSmith said it makes the re-entry into society a much smoother one.

“So far we have helped over 30 offenders that have been released from prison. We’ve been successful with getting a handful back to work immediately. It’s been a couple of times when I had some get out yesterday from prison and they are interviewing the next day,” NeSmith said.

Our news team talked with one worker who doesn’t want to be identified by name, but says the services Get Out To Stay Out provides are needed in the community.

He says without their help, he‘d likely be without the job he has now.

”I was trying to get jobs, everybody was holding it against me that I was in prison. I would tell the truth I had a criminal background and everybody would close doors on me as soon as I said that,” he said.

Get Out to Stay Out will be hosting a meeting at 12:30 p.m. on Feb. 11 at the Horry County Memorial Library for potential second chance employers who would like to help.

NeSmith says the meeting will be focused on ways to provide resources for former offenders.

He says there will be an additional meeting at 12:30 p.m. on Feb. 24, at the Socastee Library, for businesses wanting to provide resources and services to help ex-offenders.

They‘ll also be planning for an Ex-Offender Resource Fair from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on April 20 at the Horry-Georgetown Tech Conference Center, located at 950 Crabtree Lane.

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