What To Expect
South Carolina STRONG is a non-profit self-help group for drug addicts, alcoholics, ex-convicts, and others whose lives have hit bottom. In this community, residents learn to care for others, to develop values and self-reliance, gain some dignity for themselves, learn occupational skills, get an education, and earn a sense of self-worth so they can ultimately graduate from SC STRONG and make a legitimate and successful life in society.
It is primarily a self-supporting, self-governing community maintained entirely by the men who come to SC STRONG for help, representing diverse racial, cultural and socio-economic groups. Many residents come into SC STRONG upon referral from an agency of the criminal justice system. Interviews are conducted on SC STRONG premises as well as in jails. It is important to tell the whole truth in your interview. Since we live as an extended family, we come to know all about each other. If someone lied in the interview, they are asked to leave, since admitting the truth about our lives and situations begins the process of change at SC STRONG. New residents are asked to make a two year commitment because we believe that is the minimal time required to really turn a life, with years of destructive patterns, completely around.
The first few months of SC STRONG are considered the “immigration” phase. Upon acceptance, men will have their hair trimmed to short length and become clean-shaven. Clothing is provided and the first focus is to turn around street and/or gang images and develop new self-concepts. These first few weeks are spent in maintenance jobs such as cleaning the facilities and serving meals. Residents are allowed to write parents/guardians after 30 days, and a call after 90 days; however, they are generally encouraged to spend their time and energy in “immigration” getting to know those around them, and becoming involved in their new environment. Following that, letters, phone calls and visits are earned along with responsibilities and rewards.
The faster new residents learn good work habits and basic positive interaction skills, the more quickly they will earn their way out of maintenance and out of immigration and into one of the vocational training departments where they will learn vocational skills. Training Schools, some of which generate income for SC STRONG, provide job training in many areas including the construction trades, landscaping, moving, auto maintenance, bookkeeping, culinary arts including catering skills, sales, among numerous others. The focus is on learning to give, to get a good work ethic, and to help. Also, a strong emphasis is placed on academic education. Residents are tutored until they receive a high school equivalency.
There are three primary rules:
1. No physical violence;
2. No threats of violence;
3. No drugs or alcohol.
Anyone breaking these rules will be asked to leave. Other problems are punished by extra work such as washing dishes. We believe in teaching people to admit their mistakes, fix them, and move forward.
Everyone who comes in works his way up into some sort of position in which he is learning a new job from the person over them who has held that job before, and teaching the job he has now to the newer resident. In this way, everyone at SC STRONG is pulling together toward the same goals. No one is simply a receiver; everyone is a giver as well. You are not coming to a program based on counseling. We have a strong work ethic and base our change on learning new ways of living by doing.