Old Prairie School building to get new life as transitional housing

Partnership between the RCDC and Stand Firm Ministry will help former inmates

MONROE COUNTY, MISS. (WCBI) – A former Monroe County school will soon be used as a transition home for men who want to change their lives and their future.

Charles Hodges may be retiring as a transport officer at the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department, but he says that job has prepared him for the next chapter in his life.

“Day One Ministry, some of the guys I talk to say the first day out is always the worst day for them, either they end up back on drugs, or with no place to live, so I came up with an idea of trying to find a place for them to stay, something for them to do,” Hodges said.

Those former inmates, who want to make a lasting change, will have a place of transition thanks to a partnership between another Monroe County-based ministry, and the Prairie Rural Community Development Club.

“Stand Firm Ministry and Pastor Vincent Hayes have been praying, and trying to get the same thing started, at some point, we all came together and approached Prairie RCDC and people have opened their arms to help that great need in this county,” said Monroe County Sheriff Kevin Crook.

The west wing of the school would be used for transitional housing.  The auditorium, cafeteria, and gym would also be available.  40 to 60 men could be housed at one time in the space.

The school hasn’t been used since 2010. Vandals and the weather have taken their toll on the building. Now, community members are cleaning property, sprucing up the gym, and preparing the old school for its new purpose.

“When you are unfamiliar with prisoners, you are kind of leery of them, but we have been given access to them since we have doing our improvements out here, for the most part, they are really good guys,” said Eric Jonas, treasurer for the RCDC.

“This will be, nonviolent offenders, no sex offenders, it’s basically people who around us anyway, some can’t go home to their families, some can but they choose to be in a different environment,” said Gwendolyn Snowflake, secretary for the RCDC.

It is estimated it will take around $200,000 to make repairs to the old roof and other issues with the school.  But organizers say it’s an investment in not only the lives of men who want to make a change, but also in the entire community.

Anyone who wants more information on the project can call the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department.

Categories: Featured, Local News