Kenny Rogers croons for prison-ministry benefit

Those who plan to attend the April 19 Kenny Rogers concert at the Asheville Civic Center will get more than just the satisfaction of listening to one of country music’s biggest legends; they’ll also be benefiting a local prison ministry that aims to build a space to help local convicts on the verge of release adapt to life in the outside world.

‘Til I can make it on my own: Country music legend Kenny Rogers will donate a portion of the proceeds at his April 19 concert to benefit the planned New Life Center, a religious/resource center for people transitioning out of prison life.

The New Life Center, an approximately 5,000-square-foot chapel and resource-and-education center to be built near the minimum security Buncombe County Correctional Center (aka Craggy Prison) in Weaverville, needs $1 million to become a reality.

Dr. Micki Cabiniss Eutsler, an official with the nonprofit center and leader of the effort to build the facility, says she hopes the concert can raise at least $150,000, with the remainder to come through donations, grants and other funding. Though she could not provide details, she says Rogers has agreed to share some of his ticket sales to aid the facility.

With sales so far less than brisk, according to Eutsler, she says it’s important that people who care about reducing recidivism and integrating prisoners successfully into society hit the Civic Center’s box office. Given statistics that indicate nearly 70 percent of prisoners will return to crime without proper help and guidance for coping on the outside, the need for the center is acute, she says.

“These people need more support in turning their lives around,” she says. With a high turnover rate, “it’s shocking how many come into our communities a year—over 350,” she says.

The Buncombe Correctional Center was designed in 1989 by the N.C. Department of Corrections as a minimum-security, work-release prison unit to be the last stop before a return to the community. Today, BCC houses 182 men and has only 39 work-release “slots.” The prison offers a variety of religious, educational and re-entry programs conducted by the staff, chaplain and community volunteers. Unfortunately, lack of appropriate program spaces at BCC severely limits participation in all re-entry programs and faith activities, which is where the planned New Life Center comes into play.

The center will attend to prisoners’ spiritual needs through nondenominational, faith-based programs, as well as non-faith-based programs to help them deal with work, education, relationships, substance-abuse problems and other areas vital to successful re-entry.

For more information, visit www.bcc-crc.org. For groups interested in discount tickets to the Kenny Rogers concert, or to make a donation, call 277-0998.

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