May 21, 2010 4:15 PM by Carolyn Cerda
A new second chance program is in the works in Lafayette. It will not only help those in need but will also re-model an eye sore off of I-49.
The old Ramada Inn property will be transformed into one of eight phases for the program. The building has been abandoned for 12 years and the property owner is collaborating with other organizations to fix-up the place.
"Operation Sweep" will be a re-entry program for those who are homeless, released from prison and fighting drug addiction. Minister Tanelle Welff came to the U.S. from South Africa where she soon found herself homeless. She says it was the people at Progressive Baptist Church who helped her get back on her feet. The church is taking the lead in the partnership with the Ramada Inn property owner in the program, and Welff is now overseeing the project.
"It's been a traumatic two years for me, being on the streets of Lafayette... But having to be homeless doesn't mean that you incapacitate yourself... You can make your life count," Welff said.
Work has already begun on re-modeling the building and the program itself is also underway.
"The approach we're trying to take here is a drug free approach... And using a model that's already been proven," chiropractor Rick Nash said.
The model "Operation Sweep" will be using is the same one being used in Miami by Dr. Jay Holder. Holder is coming to Lafayette bringing his successful formula with him. Holder and other state and local officials will meet Monday, May 24th at the Community Center at Progressive Baptist Church from 12pm-3pm to discuss the steps of moving the program forward.
Volunteers are also needed. As of now, Welff says funding for the program will mostly come from grants and sponsors. So, she's asking for the community to come together and donate food and supplies for re-modeling the building. People can drop of donations from 8am-12pm Monday, May 24th at the Ramada Inn on I-49.
Donors and volunteers can contact Progressive Baptist Church at 337-234-3924 for more information.