For the second year in a row, Cornerstone of Recovery, an alcohol and drug treatment facility located in Blount County, is giving away the gift of freedom for the holidays.

Two inmates from the Blount County Detention Facility, one male and one female, have been selected to take part in the treatment center’s full scope of inpatient, outpatient and aftercare programs, roughly two years in length.

“A member of our Cornerstone staff will pick the two participants up from the jail on Christmas Eve and bring them to treatment,” said Webster Bailey, Cornerstone’s executive director of business development and outreach. “They will get to wake up on Christmas Day in treatment, where they will be given the opportunity to start over. They can truly re-create themselves through our treatment program and we will do everything in our power to help them be successful in recovery.

“We’re giving this gift away at no cost to these individuals,” Bailey added. “It’s truly our Christmas gift to them.”

The scholarships, worth about $30,000 each, require that the new patients enter into a two-year commitment and must complete the program or return to jail. Both could have chosen to spend less time in jail, but have chosen to enter into a program of recovery that offers them a chance at meaningful change.

“This is not just a get-out-of-jail-and-go-to-treatment card,” Bailey said. “We’ve worked in concert with the Blount County Judicial System, specifically Ryan Desmond from the district attorney’s office and Judge William Brewer. Both the DA’s office and Judge Brewer have agreed to furlough these two individuals into the care of Cornerstone. If either of the participants choose to leave our facility prematurely, break our rules, or discontinue the therapeutic process for any reason, they will go back to jail.”

Those selected are non-violent offenders whose records indicate a drug and alcohol problem that can be better addressed by clinical treatment instead of prolonged incarceration. The goal is to offer rehabilitation to those afflicted by addiction and alcoholism, which in turn lowers the population at the Blount County jail and has a positive impact on the community as a whole.

Bailey said the first stage of treatment will be a residential inpatient program that lasts four to five weeks. The patients will then move to an intensive outpatient program for a 60-day period before spending time in a supportive living facility, similar to a halfway house, which can last up to six months. After that, they’ll go through an 18-month long aftercare program.

The scholarship program is the brainchild of Pam Spindel, a former Cornerstone counselor who also volunteers as a women’s chaplain at the jail. At Spindel’s initiative, Cornerstone administrators approached representatives of the Blount County District Attorney General’s Office, Blount County probation officers, the Blount County Public Defender’s Office and the Blount County judicial system to begin the process in 2014.

The selection process took about a month, and they ended up choosing a 20-year-old man and 37-year-old woman who entered Cornerstone’s treatment program on Christmas Day, 2014. Both completed the program and are available for interviews by local media.

For additional information, or to interview last year’s scholarship recipients and/or any of those involved in the process, please contact Webster Bailey at 865-696-0060.


*Text above from Cornerstone press release Dec 2015*