CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice says 1,805 are now enrolled in Jobs and Hope West Virginia, an all-time high for the program enrollment. The program is also celebrating the first participant to complete a record expungement process through its partnership with Legal Aid West Virginia.
“This is some of the most exciting work that we’ve been able to do because of the affirmitive good that it brings to the lives of our participants,” said Marie Bechtel with Legal Aid West Virginia.
Jobs & Hope West Virginia is the state’s comprehensive response to the substance use disorder crisis established by Justice and the West Virginia Legislature. Through a statewide collaboration of agencies, the program offers support through a statewide collaboration of agencies that provide West Virginians in recovery the opportunity to obtain career training and to ultimately secure meaningful employment.
Lori Smith, with the West Virginia Schools of Diversion and Transition program, who manages the Jobs and Hope program, said the main goal is to eliminate employment barriers and put West Virginians back to work.
While Smith says the program was created as a response to substance use and addiction, the program also helps West Virginians over barriers re-entering society from corrections and even helps those who have lost jobs in careers that no longer exist in West Virginia and are trying to reenter the workforce as untrained workers.
“West Virginians work together to solve problems, and Jobs and Hope is a great example of that,” Smith said. “We’ve been able to develop safe, local, community, nonprofit, recovery and training partners that help our participants in so many ways. We have referal processes for almost any barrier that a West Virginian would face.”
The governor says 193 drivers licenses were reinstated through the program in the month of September. Justice also thanked Good News Mountaineer Garage for helping some of those newly reinstated become vehicle owners.
“They have worked diligently and they have provided, and come out now and helped 19 different applicants that are now vehicle owners,” Justice said.
Since July 2019, 182 participants have received career employment, the governor said.
“Think what a life is worth that we’ve turned around from the possibility of a lot of bad things that could have happened, even death. We’ve turned around 182 who have received career employment,” Justice said. “To all the people that are heading this entire program up, to all the good work that Cathy’s done, my wife, in regard to communities and schools, and to all the different things that are happening here, good job.”