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New Program to help ex-felons, drug and alcohol addicts calls for religious leaders to help

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COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

A new program is kicking off in Columbus, Ga. to help ex-felons, drug addicts and homeless individuals to find jobs, and their place in the society.

Al Barber with Barber's Driving school is launching a program called Unity Ministry International (UMI) on July 24, 2014. The program aims to enhance the services of various existing organizations to help provide non-overlapping services to the needy.

"We are not trying to duplicate or recreate the same organization or services that already exist," Barber explained. "We are not going to create more overlapping services, and we are not trying to compete with other services. We are trying to help other organizations come up with ways to enhance their services to help those who need to find jobs, health care and more."

Barber hopes other leaders in the Columbus area will join the cause.

"I am reaching out to pastors, priests and religious leaders, because I want to ask them to reach out to their congregation," Barber said. "We have many people who want to participate in helping others, and I think our plan of restoration is a great place to start. I think many people want to restore and revive lives. What greater things to restore than broken people?"

Barber said that church is a great place to start finding volunteers who would want to help make a difference, and UMI took years for him to organize. He came up with the idea when he was volunteering in Prattville, Ala. to help open a center that helps the less fortunate.

"I dealt with many who were alcoholics, drug addicts and homeless people who were trying to stay out of prison and people who were coming out of prison," Barber recalled. "I formed Unity Ministry while I was there, and I came up with an eight weeks training restoration program. After being there for a year, I came back for my family's business, Barber's Driving School. But this is now the right time to carry this out."

UMI focuses on three social issues that Barber hopes to help fix.

"The first issue we have is the overlapping services that many wonderful agencies give," Berber said. "Multiple agencies offer the same thing, same services, and we have duplication where we are doing the exact same thing. Then we have fragmentation, meaning these organizations are not communicating well. The third issue is being able to provide restoration and training centers for those who are interested in re-entering the work force or trying to overcome certain addictions."

UMI's launching program will take place at the House of God located 7230 Flat Rock Rd. Midland, Ga. About 250 religious leaders have been invited to the program, and Barber is encouraging all religious leaders to show support.  Barber will hold a session at the House of God on Sunday, July 13 at 10:30 a.m. for those interested in volunteering at the ministry.

"I was baptized at the House of God when I was 14-years-old," Barber said. "It's exciting to launch at the church where I first came to know God. But Unity Ministry International is a non-denominational organization. We are not here to change the way people worship, we are not going to talk about doctrine differences. We are here for one cause, and that is to help those who are trying to get back on their feet."

Barber is currently asking for interested individuals and volunteers to get involved. Those interested can reach Barber by calling Barber's Driving School or visiting the school at www.UnityMinistryInternational.org

Copyright 2014 WTVM. All rights reserved.

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