Founder of Geneva ministry honored as Silent Hero
The life of a Virginia resident in his middle-50s dramatically changed course more than a year ago when he visited the Purpose and Promise Ministry in Geneva.
The armed forces veteran had developed a drug addiction and had never seen his grandchildren. He wanted to change that, and Purpose and Promise guided him toward his goal.
“He came in and stayed with us for three weeks, and we got him into a rehabilitation program in Nevada,” says Jessica Simmons, Purpose and Promise founder. “He got one of 10 scholarships in the United States.”
Now, just over a year later, the man has successfully completed rehab and lives near his grandchildren and daughter in Virginia. His journey is one of the greatest success stories at Purpose and Promise, but it isn’t the only one.
That is why Wiregrass Electric Cooperative (WEC) and WTVY News 4 partnered to present Simmons with a Silent Heroes of the Wiregrass award. The honor comes with a $1,000 check courtesy of WEC’s Operation Round Up Charitable Foundation, which will further ministry efforts.
“Every community has people who are hurting or struggling in life, and every community has people like Jessica Simmons who quietly help them overcome obstacles,” says Wiregrass Electric Cooperative Chief Operating Officer Brad Kimbro. “We want to give those people some well-deserved recognition and support their efforts to strengthen our communities.”
Finding her Purpose
Growing up, Simmons always had the desire to help her community. She served in school clubs and civic clubs, but through her faith, she discovered her niche in ministering to the incarcerated.
“I just wanted to be a help,” she says. “I got into jail ministry, and that’s what grew into this — seeing there was such a gap for people to cross if they really wanted to get out of the lifestyle they were in. You have to have help. There are so many hurdles.”
She created Purpose and Promise to help the needy or struggling clear those hurdles. That work ranges from obtaining important documents like birth certificates to aiding in placements to rehabilitation facilities.
“Every city has a different dynamic,” Simmons says. “Mainly in Geneva, it’s more about generational poverty and drug abuse, which can lead to a lot of people on the street.”
At the core of the ministry, though, are daily biblical devotions and meals.
“We spend a lot of time giving them opportunities to know they don’t have to stay in that type of lifestyle,” Simmons says.
Significant victories have resulted from the work of Simmons and her team of volunteers.
“We have one guy right now who’s in a one-year program,” she says. “He’s been there several months, and this guy has been on drugs probably half of his life. He’s 25 years old. He has a young son. Now they have been reunited.
“We’ve had people who were IV drug users for 20 years come through rehab and be reunited with family they haven’t seen their whole life.”
Since strong support systems are needed to overcome drug addiction, involving family members in the rehabilitation process often proves to be critical. Sometimes, though, family members have suffered hurts or are unsure of how to help.
Simmons says much of her ministry encourages family to overcome those challenges and coaches them on what to do.
“I’ve had a lot of interaction with people’s family members,” she says. “A lot of times it seems like I have more interaction with them than I do with our clients. Those family members that are at the end of their rope — that’s where we tie the knot and help them with that. It’s a transition process for everybody involved when you’re addressing people who have drug addiction or are on the streets.”
Simmons is grateful for the $1,000 grant from ORU, as it will continue the work she started.
“I have a girl who has volunteered with me for a very long time, and she’s back on the street serving as a contact point for people,” she says. “We just connect them to different services and different things and try to help them.”
What is the Silent Heroes Program?
WEC and WTVY formed an innovative partnership in 2016 to recognize and support the Silent Heroes of the Wiregrass. A person or an organization that quietly makes a difference in our communities is featured each month during a WTVY newscast.
The WEC Operation Round Up Charitable Foundation also donates $1,000 to each selected cause.
Causes and heroes supported in the past include homeless ministries, those who serve the elderly, those who assist in drug rehabilitation, and those who mentor area youth. To nominate someone for a Silent Heroes of the Wiregrass honor, visit the WTVY Silent Heroes of the Wiregrass page.