The mission of the Alston Wilkes Society is Rebuilding Lives for a Safer Community. Founded in 1962 by the Reverend Eli Alston Wilkes, AWS began its service by working with currently incarcerated individuals to provide them the tools and resources needed to become productive members of their community. Since that time, our programs have grown to include at-risk youth and adults, Veterans and their families, and those currently or formerly involved with the justice system.
AWS operates a high-management youth home, four Residential Reentry Centers, two transitional facilities for homeless Veterans, eight statewide community service offices, and two offices providing Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF). These programs and facilities provide counseling and assistance to our clients that include housing counseling services, personal financial planning, transportation services, income support services, and legal services.
Our high management youth home works with children who are referred by approved State agencies and are transitioning back to a familial setting. As with all our facilities, individual, group, and family therapy sessions are offered to our residents. The children attend school locally and also have GED, trade, and technical school programs available to them. They receive 24-hour supervision from our staff, who are trained in providing therapeutic care to children. In the year 2020, this program was able to assist 45 children with family reunification.
Alston Wilkes’ residential reentry programs partner with the Federal Bureau of Prisons to assist individuals returning from federal incarceration as they transition back to their community. Our residential reentry centers provide housing, food, and intensive case management to residents as they work to secure employment. Research has shown that the number one cause of recidivism is financial insecurity, and the counseling provided by our facilities help keep South Carolina among the nation’s leaders in reduced reoffender rates.
The Community Service programs operated by AWS provide similar services to individuals who are currently incarcerated or have recently returned from incarceration in State facilities. Community Service offices are located throughout South Carolina, and our Community Service Coordinators also assist the homeless and at-risk populations in their community. By offering these services, we are able to reduce crime in our community by lowering recidivism rates and helping our clients become law-abiding, tax-paying citizens.
Our two Veterans Facilities are located in Columbia and Greenville and are partnered with the VA to help provide housing and care to homeless Veterans in South Carolina. These facilities also provide After Care assistance to ensure that the Veterans who have completed our residential program are able to maintain the security and stability they need to remain self-sustaining and productive members of their community. Over the past year, our transitional facilities have helped 155 homeless veterans get off of the streets in South Carolina.
One of the core beliefs in our agency is that the “golden rule” will always lead you in the right direction. When we work to give members of our community a second chance, we’re offering them the same support and care that we would want offered to us. The success of the Alston Wilkes Society is measured by how we meet our responsibilities to clients, volunteers, investors, partnerr agencies, and each other. To learn more about the Alston Wilkes Society, please visit alstonwilkessociety.org or call 803-799-2490.