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Sheriff’s program helps clients gain economic mobility

Cpl. Kichas Adams and Officer Steven Bennett in their Community Court Services office.

Sheriff’s program helps clients gain economic mobility
October 03
06:51 2022

By John Railey

A program that Forsyth County Sheriff Bobby Kimbrough launched is helping its clients start their first steps toward upward economic mobility. “It was very helpful, it’s been a blessing to me,” said Robert Hinton, 58, who found a service industry job through the program.

The program, housed on the second floor of the Forsyth County Government  Building  next to the Register of Deeds Office, is Community Court Services. It has, according to its operators, quietly helped more than 200 clients secure jobs in the last three years. Many of the clients are released offenders and people otherwise involved in the court system. The program helps them overcome hurdles posed by Winston-Salem’s poor system of public transportation. The program aligns with the work of Winston-Salem State University’s Center for the Study of Economic Mobility (CSEM), which has bedrock research into released offenders and public transportation.

At a panel with CSEM in June, Kimbrough said that people have to see a pathway to better futures. “It’s not rocket science,” he said. “Social issues not addressed become criminal issues.”

Susan Frye, a former Forsyth Clerk of Court who works with the sheriff’s office, said, “The reason the sheriff is so supportive of this program is to help people not to enter the judicial system or the Detention Center.”

That’s right and practical, saving human and financial costs.

Cpl. Kichas Adams and Officer Steven Bennett lead the program, which charges no fees for its services. Walk-ins are welcome. The officers serve as much-needed navigators, guiding their clients to organizations that can help them, including the CARes Project, which helps clients buy cars at low costs. 

“This is the best program I’ve ever dealt with,” said a released offender who gained a job through the program.

The office was once called the day reporting center for defendants referred for probation, child-support and other issues. Sheriff Kimbrough made the office more holistic in its outreach. It helps its clients with temporary jobs and full-time ones at businesses, including factories. A few of the factories have provided shuttle services to their work, a much-needed option that more businesses should emulate.

Bennett, a veteran, guides clients who are veterans with their issues through various agencies that can help. 

Adams added: “Sometimes parents bring teenagers in to get part time jobs after work. If we have clients that come in who don’t have their high school diploma, we partner with Forsyth Tech, which offers GEDs.”

Adams said: “We’re the behind-the-scenes type of help. I’ve always wanted to give back.”

John Railey, raileyjb@nullgmail.com, is the writer-in-residence for CSEM, www.wssu.edu/csem.

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