FLORENCE, S.C. (WBTW) — Tenacious Grace, a ministry that engages hurting women with a message of truth, strength, and hope in Jesus, recently bought a home that will serve as a shelter for formerly incarcerated women.

The home can serve up to five women at a time. Within the Five Sparrow program, there is an intense, relationship-driven, long-term model for breaking the cycles of poverty, addiction, prostitution and recidivism.

Cookie Cawthon, executive director of Tenacious Grace, said Five Sparrows is a free, two-year recovery residence that opened in May 2020. Residents get free medical, dental and vision care (through a partnership with HopeHealth); free equine therapy; free schooling and job training (in conjunction with Poynor Adult Education); and free room and board for 24 months.

“They pay absolutely nothing the entire time they are there,” she said. “There is clothing. Their food, all of that is provided. We have a partnership with Hope Health so their medical care is provided, dental and vision.”

Cawthon said her organization works with several other community partners, including Florence County Sheriff TJ Joye, Deputy Chaplain Joel Billings, Twelfth Circuit Adult Drug Court Coordinator Scott Nutter and public defender Vic Meetze.

“So many of them come in here, they are lost, addictions,” Joye said. “Cookie and the counselors, they do a great job. They give them hope.”

“And it provides less recidivism when they go ahead and apply to a place like Five Sparrows,” Billings said. “They can look forward towards something that will give them that hope.”

HopeHealth provided the following statement:

“HopeHealth is proud to partner with Cookie and her Five Sparrows team. They provide a tremendous opportunity for women not only to get back on their feet, but also to develop the skills and resources to thrive post-incarceration. Here at HopeHealth, we provide whatever care we can in a wraparound, holistic way.

“I am the Director of Behavioral Health Services, so I am most familiar with care from this angle: I have observed residents engaging in psychotherapeutic services, and in the course of treatment I have seen their providers engage some combination of psychiatry, psychological evaluation, substance use treatment, and primary care medical services to achieve a collaborative, unified approach to addressing the resident’s needs. The resident is in the driver’s seat of their care, and all providers stay abreast of what is happening with the patient.

“Providing care for the residents in this way is one step toward helping them solidly get back on their feet, preventing future episodes of incarceration and restoring women and families to wholeness. Cookie and her team are providing a much-needed resource in this community.” 

Carol Hill, director of Florence County Adult Education, also provided a statement supporting the work of the Tenacious Grace organization.

“Florence County Adult Education began partnering with this ministry several years ago to offer women a second chance at their education as a part of their rebuilding of their lives. The Tenacious Grace ministry staff serve with a passion and have been very compassionate and persistent in their desire and resourcefulness towards helping women who have been incarcerated.”

If you would like to support Tenacious Grace, click here for more information.