The Oklahoma Eagle Newswire
Just the Beginning Inc. (JTB) is a Christ-centered organization that empowers justice-involved females to reach self-sufficiency, esteem and wholeness. JTB’s vision is to be among the leading organizations purposefully offering a relevant and effective method of aiding justice-involved women. JTB is committed to a life-giving program model focused on guiding women on the path to restoration and renewal of life by building productive, successful, and self-sufficient women of high esteem working to positively impact their communities.
The goal is to “bridge” justice-involved women with empowerment training, support and resources needed to sustain ongoing success upon diversion and further involvement with the justice system. JTB has two program components—Community Outreach (which extends into prisons) and the JTB Empowerment Program (intensive individual and group sessions designed for women in diversion, transition or on parole).
Founded in 2009 by, Executive Director, Jenice Jones; Just the Beginning became a non-profit 501 c(3) organization equipped to serve Oklahoma. This is an organisation purposely fashioned to institute a paradigm shift in the traditional method of providing assistance to women. Just the Beginning is committed to being an ongoing life-giving model focused towards guiding women on the path to restoration and renewal of life by building productive, successful women of high esteem to positively impact their communities.
JTB Founder Jenice Jones, is a native of Tulsa Oklahoma, born in 1964 and a graduate of Booker T. Washington High School Class of 1983. Jenice found herself in a place of despair and hopelessness with a long-term relationship lasting over 10 years with a man addicted to crack cocaine. Those 10 years of experience riddled her with the undeniable trauma she never dreamed possible, but eventually, Jenice rose to the occasion and decided it was time to live. Jenice diligently pursued her purpose and went back to school to complete her education with a degree in Bachelor of Arts-Multidisciplinary Studies, with an emphasis in Organizational Operations and a minor in Political Science from the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa, she has since obtained a Masters in Human Relations from the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa, with an emphasis in Social Justice and Change. Today, Jenice is working on her doctorate in Public Policy and Administration.
Jenice is committed to volunteering weekly at David L. Moss Criminal Justice Center, the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, teaching and training discipleship at her church Going Hard For Christ, and giving one on one time with individuals to equip them with life development planning, mentoring, case management, and on-going accountability.
While Jenice is committed to the day to day operations of the organization, she is also committed to trampling the head of injustice and advocating for the families who have become the victims of the Oklahoma systems that govern minimum mandatory sentencing of many non-violent drug offenders. In doing so, Jenice is currently involved with the Tulsa County transition from jail to the community initiative, called Outside Inside Collaboration for Justice, the Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform, and a member of the Tulsa County Chaplain’s Community Connection Committee.
Currently, Just the Beginning is in partnership with Angela Ellis, Sugar Rush Bakery Founder and Jobs for Life. Jobs for Life is a global nonprofit organisation that engages and equips the local Church to address the impact of joblessness through the dignity of work. Our partnership is designed to address the devastating effects of unemployment and poverty by helping women obtain gainful employment. With the efforts of these entities, Just the Beginning will be positioned to further build infrastructure and sustain program activities.
The JTB Empowerment Program is an intensive, comprehensive 6-month program designed for women, ages 16 and above, in diversion, transition, or on parole.
The JTB Empowerment Program offers justice-involved females individual coaching and group sessions, community resources, and ongoing assistance and support so the women live their lives with purpose and productivity. We work to holistically restore justice-involved women back to their families and communities. The program provides Life Development Planning, Behavioral Health, Recovery Coaching, Adult Literacy, and Mentoring. We connect justice-involved women with housing, employment, job training, higher education, and counseling resources and community services to move them forward.
Over the past three years, we have served 750 justice-involved women via the Empowerment and Community Outreach programs. In the past three years, 48 women were “active program participants” of the Just the Beginning Empowerment Program. Below are the outcomes of the 48 participants.
Just the Beginning Outcomes for 2013-2016
- 48 women started the program.
- The 48 women are parents to 102 children that were impacted as their mother participated in JTB.
- 1 (.02%) woman was dismissed from the program.
- 2 (.05%) women did not complete the program and went to prison (1 had a case pending – 1 re-offended). The women served a prison sentence and have both contacted Just the Beginning seeking program acceptance upon release from prison.
- 6 (14%) women are currently enrolled in Higher Education—pursuing an Associate’s degree or higher.
- 23 (54%) women participated in a job training program with a partnering agency and have since obtained gainful employment.
- 41 (95%) have completed/graduated the Just the Beginning Empowerment Program.
- The additional 702 women received Community Outreach services in the form of group mentoring, classes, and/or outreach services such as delivery of toiletries, etc.
The JTB Empowerment project goals are the following:
- Maintain a 95% graduation rate in the Empowerment Program. The women that complete the program are more likely to continue to move forward with their success and comply with their parole and not return to the justice system.
- Engage 100% of the women in the Four Pillars of Empowerment. These four pillars are designed around teaching justice-involve women health, wellness, wholeness, and self-sufficiency.
- Ensure 95% of the women have reached self-sufficiency by graduation from the Empowerment Program. JTB is committed to the women for a lifetime; however, we design the program for effective results within the first year of service so that the women can work towards completing their education, gaining employment and housing, etc. We have traced these as key elements to the women not returning to and/staying compliant with the justice system.
- Although it may be more indirect, our goal is to be a strong community partner and key collaborator in serving justice-involved women to ensure we decrease recidivism and the high costs associated with incarceration. In 2013, it costs an average of more than $13,000 to house one incarcerated person in a minimum-security facility and upwards to more than $18,000 – $26,000 to incarcerate one person in a maximum-security facility.
JTB’s whole-hearted commitment is to the changing the lives of justice-involved women and their families. We continue our efforts to search for new donors, upgrade current donors, and continue to seek volunteer services, partnerships with other organisations, and donations/resources to continue to provide our program to the women.
In 2016, JTB received funding from Going Hard for Christ Church, Just the Beginning Board of Directors, Michael and Deana Barnes, Anne & Henry Zarrow Foundation, Maxine & Jack Zarrow Foundation, and the ONEOK Foundation.
Staff, including the Executive Director, have volunteered their time and talents; however, as the organization grows, we would like to have continuity in staff and compensate our staff for the work they are doing for the organization and the community.