JOPLIN, MO -- Betsy Bonin Says she's spent time in many prisons in Missouri for a long list of drug related offense, and attended more than 20 different drug rehabilitation programs. She says getting into trouble with the law started early in her life. "I started drinking at 12, and then smoking marijuana. Then I was introduced to crack the summer after I graduated high school." Bonin explains. Bonin says each time she was released from prison she had no financial support, no place to stay, and employers would turn her away because of her record. "There's so many marks against you to begin with. Finding a job really is a struggle." And each time, she ended back behind bars.
But this time is different thanks to Helping Hands L.L.C. Executive Director Kathy Wilson, who started the Hope Chest Thrift Store on Main Street in Joplin. Wilson started the store to help women recently released from prison. The stores revenue helps provide 6 women a place to stay, a full-time job and a lot of faith. "The women are going to church, they are getting their friends from church at their acquaintances from church." Wilson explains. "Working at the store helps me to oversee their daily activities too."
Wilson says more than 80% of the women she has taken in, have not gone back to prison.