In its second year, the employee-led Lozier Community Grant program supported 50 nonprofit organizations across the country. Recipients were selected by employee committees in all five Lozier locations. Over the next couple of months, the recipient organizations’ stories of impact will be shared on LozierLink.
At the end of 2022, David Sloan found himself stuck in a vicious cycle.
“I just got out of jail on parole December 30th. I decided I wanted to try and get high,” Sloan remembered. “Went to jail, I came out of jail. I got high again. Went back to jail, got out of jail again. Got high, went to jail.” Ready to break his addiction, Sloan turned to the Forge program, an outreach effort for men looking to right there lives, offered by Joplin’s Watered Gardens.
December 2023 marked ten months for Sloan’s involvement in Forge. The program places men like him on a new path, presenting goals for self-improvement like finding a job, establishing financial savings, developing positive relationships and resolving lingering legal issues.
Ensuring no one has a financial barrier to getting better, Forge is offered completely free of charge to participants. Director Michael Mitchell has managed the outreach effort for around a year, providing mentorship and assistance to the men taking part.
“It’s someone that’s been through a lot in life, but they’ve also been through a lot lately,” Mitchell said of the men who seek out Forge. “That is the transformational change.” Mitchell said the program’s approach to positive transformation can be slow, but time and time again, it works.
“There’s some days, you know, you’re here and you just feel like you’re beating your head against the wall and nothing’s happening,” Mitchell said. “And then, when you see that one, that all of a sudden everything changes and that transformation happens.” Sloan agreed.
“I went from, ‘I had to do this to stay out of jail,’ to ‘I get to do this because they actually care and want something better for me,’” Sloan said.
The Watered Gardens Forge program is one of six groups in the Joplin area receiving funding from the 2023 Lozier Community Grant Program. The financial assistance ensures that Forge remains free and available for the men who need it.
“I’m so thankful for organizations like Lozier, that are willing to go and step up,” Mitchell said.
“I do not take it for granted that I’m only here for a limited time,” Sloan added. “This is very, very precious time that I’m going to use wisely.