Carol Lease, Executive Director of The Empowerment Program likes to emphasize the saying: “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” The Empowerment Program (established in 1986) serves a variety of women in need in the Denver area. These women have experienced incarceration, poverty, homelessness, prostitution, abuse, mental illness, HIV/AIDS/Hepatitis C infection and other barriers to personal health and success
By providing education, employment, health and housing options, The Empowerment program strives to decrease rates of recidivism and help women live stable, healthy, fulfilling lives. This is accomplished through comprehensive case management, basic skills education, supportive housing and resource coordination.
Services also include parenting and life skills education, mental health counseling, therapeutic writing workshops for victims of trauma, anger management and emotional awareness classes, holistic health recovery programs, acupuncture, support groups for women living with HIV/AIDS, and substance abuse counseling. Clothing, transportation assistance, financial and utility bill assistance, and free HIV and Hepatitis C testing are also available.
A variety of these services are also made available to both male and female inmates of the Denver County Jail on a weekly basis. This multi-pronged approach to treatment creates an alternative to habits and choices that may lead to criminal behaviors, helping many women to get clean, stay clean and truly change their lives for the better.
Many Empowerment Program participants are homeless, are living with HIV/AIDS or are at high risk for HIV infection, are actively using drugs, are living with serious mental illness, are survivors of abusive relationships, or any combination of the above.
Some client statistics at a glance:
Approximately 90% of all the program participants currently use drugs and/or alcohol, or have significant histories of drug/alcohol use.
About half have been or are currently using injection drugs.
Eighty percent of participants have dependent children – half of whom are in foster care.
The majority of all participants are unemployed when they attend orientation, have histories of working in low-paying, low-skilled positions, have extensive criminal records and active drug use that are additional barriers to finding and keeping a job.