This is Shine Adams. He’s a social worker, jail volunteer, and a carpenter, too. Last year, Shine combined his love of wood working and his passion for helping others into a nonprofit business that’s given a dozen community members a second chance at a new future.
When one of his friends was released from prison, Shine got a glimpse at the hopelessness that former prisoners often feel as they seek out employment. So he put his life savings to work and started Sun Cedar, a workshop in his basement where he employs people who have had trouble getting work elsewhere because they are struggling with homelessness, addiction recovery, or criminal history. Using scraps of wood, Sun Cedar employees create tree-shaped air fresheners and other great-smelling cedar products.
While Shine has faced nay-sayers along his Sun Cedar journey, he strongly believes in the sense of purpose that meaningful work can provide. He’s witnessed the loyalty that his employees have for Sun Cedar and seen how they value their opportunity to work. Shine’s hope is that the business can be a stepping stone for his team members–giving them some valuable work experience that builds their resumes. A few former Sun Cedar team members have already gone on to other jobs!
Sun Cedar’s first employee, Steven, says, “I would say Sun Cedar changed my life and that it gave me the opportunity out of prison to work, and it gave me confidence.”
Last month, a Kickstarter campaign provided funds to help establish the company’s 501c3 status, upgrade tools for optimal safety, and expand the workshop to another location outside of Shine’s basement. The funds will also help Shine employ more people looking for a second chance.
At Prison Fellowship, we believe that men and women who have paid their debt to society should have the opportunity to earn back the community’s trust–to support themselves and their families, to contribute something positive to others, to overcome social stigma. Like Shine, you can help your formerly incarcerated neighbors succeed, too! Prison Fellowship is looking for church partners in communities across the country that are willing to help returning citizens find places to live, jobs to work, clothes to wear, and food to eat, so that they can live life with a new hope and purpose. If you want to help former prisoners in your neighborhood, let us know here, and we’ll get you connected.