NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Catholic Charities receives a $50,000 grant to support children whose parents are in jail. The goal; to prevent young people from following in their parent's footsteps and keep them from behind bars.
After raising her own kids, Jarice Lambert now helps with her grandsons, including 10 year old J'Shaun.
J'Shaun's father is in prison. When he was sentenced several years ago, Lambert received a call from Catholic Charities, offering support.
Tom Costanza, division director for Catholic Charities, explains, "The statistics are kinda high that if you're a child and your parent is incarcerated, your chances to be incarcerated is heightened."
The cornerstone program is an effort by Catholic Charities and the Archdiocese of New Orleans to keep families together even after a parent goes to jail. In addition to providing bus trips to prisons around the state and get togethers for families, the program also heavily focuses on the children left behind, like J'Shaun. Minister Leo Jackson, who oversees the kids program, explains how each child receives a mentor.
"He needs this role model, he needs someone in his life to sort of, affirm who he is," Jackson said.
Lambert comments, "It keeps their mind occupied, doing something positive as opposed to all the negative they could be getting into out there in this world today."
Lambert feels the benefits of Cornerstone are even more pertinent given a number of recent high profile crimes in New Orleans, like the Bunny Friend playground shooting, where some of the suspects are under the age of 21.
Costanza says when young people get involved in crime, it often reflects a deeper problem at home.
"It's just a reaction to the chaos in their environment," Costanza said.
Lambert hopes J'Shaun won't follow in his father's footsteps. Not only because of her guidance, but because of the network of support he's got; people that make sure he and other children, won't fall through the cracks.
"It's a wonderful program, I thank God for them. I don't know what I would do without them," Lambert said.