We are striving for a day when legitimate second chances are accessible to all former offenders and their loved ones in the Chattanooga area.
Everyone deserves a second chance. However, second chances can be hard to find for former offenders and their loved ones. Through grassroots efforts and community initiatives that are restorative in nature and that provide realistic hope for those who have been affected by the criminal justice system, Chattanooga Endeavors creates true second chances for men, women, and their loved ones to overcome the stigma of incarceration, to regain purpose in their lives, and to build a better tomorrow for all.
The values that originally formed Chattanooga Endeavors and that guide our actions every day come from a deep and abiding belief in second chances.
- Human Dignity. We believe in the inherent dignity of the human person. Neither what one has done nor what one has failed to do can either improve or impair human dignity. Rather it is part of the human condition and shared equally by everyone. We fully respect the life and dignity of those we serve and make a conscious effort to provide them with extraordinary respect in everything we do.
- Subsidiarity. We believe that human services organizations exist for the sake of the individuals they serve. Inasmuch as possible, they should always seek to do for them only what they cannot do for themselves. This should be true not only in terms of services provided but also decisions made – where the goal should be enable decisions to be made at the lowest practical level possible.
- Restorative Justice. Restoration denotes a bringing back to a former condition – something that may not always be desirable for former prisoners. The deeper sense of the word suggests the reparation of a fundamental condition, the removal of impairments, and a sort of renewal or rebirth. It is this deeper sense of restoration that is of importance to us at Chattanooga Endeavors. Instead of re-instituting a former condition, we believe that restoration seeks to re-institute an original condition — between the person who committed the crime, his or her victim or victims, and civil society.
- Hope. There is a sense of confident expectation entailed in the application of hope at Chattanooga Endeavors – that the search for a future good, although difficult, is not impossible to attain and will be fulfilled. Social and personal change is fueled by hope, but only when an agent of hope has appeared. We provide that agent for the individuals that use our programs, for the community that commissioned our work, and for ourselves as we pursue an unlikely dream.
The premise for most of our work is that helping former offender obtain employment that leads to a living wage is a cost-effective way to prevent repeat crime and re-incarceration. What makes this more complicated than simply helping someone find a job is the condition that it “leads to a livable wage” — and our belief that this condition is best met by the employee and not the employer. Any job can can play a role in the pursuit of a living wage. The challenge is to figure out how and then to work toward that end. Easier said than done! For many former offenders that requires a different way of thinking, a new networks of friends, and a more productive use of their free time.