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‘Garden’ aims at improving quality of life

GARYSBURG — A non-profit here is striving to improve the quality of life for at-risk youth and families across the region.

Last week, The Garden of Edenn Foundation held an open house at Chapel Grove Missionary Baptist Church to showcase their services and other agencies’ programs.

The Garden of Edenn Foundation was founded in 2006 by Bernice Lee and serves Hertford, Bertie, Gates, Northampton Halifax and Nash counties.

“I started the foundation because of a vision that I had,” said Lee. “I wanted to be able to reach out to people and help improve the quality of their lives.”

At the open house, Lee along with Rev. Glenn Silver, a consultant and chair of the board for the foundation, were joined by agencies such as the Choanoke Area Development Association (CADA), Halifax Community College and USDA Rural Development.

Lee said the foundation is not about replacing the public services already offered, but working with those agencies and filling in the gaps.

Silver echoed Lee’s thoughts.

“No one agency can do it all,” said Silver. “We just want to work with other agencies to assist people.”

Among the programs the Garden of Edenn Foundation offers include:

FRUIT (Families Rising Up & Improving Together) a family literacy program which aims to improve student performance and encourages parental support.

HOPE (Helping Offenders Permanently Exit Prison) a community reintegration initiative for offenders helps those released from prison by providing a 26-week program that provides training for life skills.

HEAL (Healthy Living & Active Living) a community health initiative designed to combat several of the common diseases in the area.

COOL (Committed to Overcoming Obstacles in Life) is a mentoring program dedicated to helping juvenile offenders.

Silver said the particular highlight of the open house was showcasing the foundation’s Training Resources for Economic Empowerment (TREE) program.

Silver said the TREE program is a replication of Greensboro’s Welfare Reform Liaison Project. Initially, TREE will provide job training in a warehouse and redistribution center, and later on include job training in digital imaging.

“It provides work experience and job training for people who are having trouble finding a job,” said Silver.

Silver said the foundation is currently working with Cathy Scott, the Halifax County Economic Development Director, in identifying a building to place TREE.

The warehouse redistribution center would provide training and work experience for material handling, distribution logistics, inventory control and customer service representative jobs. The average hourly rate would be $9-$23.

Digital imaging would provide training and work experience in digitizing records for public agencies and private companies. The average hourly rate would be $12-$18.

The program will also offer Allied Health internships to provide training health education, administration and nursing for internship placements for the emerging Roanoke Valley Free Clinic Consortium, which is comprised of free health clinics in Tillery, Garysburg, Hobgood and Whitakers. Average hourly rate would be $10-$23.

Those seeking more information about the Garden of Edenn can call (252) 536-0700.