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'Benevolence was my only shot,' Alamance County farm helps formerly incarcerated women

Benevolence Farm is a nonprofit that provides transitional employment and housing for formerly incarcerated women.

ALAMANCE COUNTY, N.C. — Benevolence Farm in Alamance County is being recognized nationally as one of nine U.S. innovation sites. The Rural Justice Collaborative (RJC) Advisory Council will work with the farm to help other communities replicate their success. 

"Benevolence Farm really challenges this idea that we are our worst mistakes and I think what we try to do is remind people of the humanity of each individual and we see the benefits of that every day, " said Executive Director Kristen Powers.

Benevolence Farm is a nonprofit that provides transitional employment and housing for formerly incarcerated women. As part of the program, residents develop various life skills, including small business practices, sustainable farming, and food and product preparation.

Keia Blount was a resident of Benevolence Farm in 2017. She said the farm was able to give her the opportunity to hit the reset button, "I am pretty sure if I hadn’t come here, I would have been right back in prison. The biggest hurdle for me and I know a lot of people is the probation fees. It's like I have to pay you this money I don’t have and I do not know where to get it from. This place gave me an opportunity to legally make the money and learn new skills." 

Over the next three years, the RJC will work with Benevolence Farm to create educational materials that it will feature in an online resource center. The program will also offer visits to leaders from other communities and participate in regional conferences.