In partnership with the Henderson County Sheriff's Office, Blue Ridge Literacy Council provides a life skills training program in the Henderson County Jail.
The Self-Advocacy and Empowerment workshops promote healthy, lawful, foundational skill building for life and work. Students learned about self-awareness, empowerment, change potentiality, conflict resolution, goal setting and emotional intelligence. The class also connects students with various resources offered in Henderson County to assist them with their educational goals. The workshops are offered on a voluntary basis and have no effect on the participants’ charges, status or sentencing.

One recent student, Beth Blackwell, spoke about the effect the pilot workshop has had on her and the other students: “Being given the opportunity to be a student in a classroom again gives us that sense of self and self-respect back. Miss Amber would encourage us and give us positive affirmation that ‘you guys are doing a good job.’ Those are the things that make us feel like we’re contributing positively to society.” Blackwell went on to describe that the workshop made her remember being a little girl and having hopes and dreams and thinking she could do anything. “After this class, we’ve started to remember those things,” said Blackwell. “We now have the confidence to go do something else. We’re grateful to have a stepping stone - to get out of jail and do something positive again. We’re really grateful for this experience.”

“I’m very proud of the students and the work they’ve done,” said Amber Hollinger following the ceremony. “It instills me with hope that they’ll continue their journey beyond the workshop; that they’ll take the skills they’ve learned into their lives and careers, but also that they’ll have the confidence to reach higher in their careers and personal lives.”

The Henderson County Sheriff’s Office is grateful to the Blue Ridge Literacy Council in the creation of this program and their future partnership in providing resources to inmates within the Henderson County Jail.

Here is a recent spot that aired on WLOS that highlighted our program.