LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56/WKYT) – Two Morehead business owners have found a solution to their employee shortages while offering inmates a chance to bank some money.
“There are people with hiring signs in probably every business in town,” Rowan County Jailer Wes Coldiron said.
Morehead businesses up and down Main Street haven’t been exempt from the labor shortages plaguing the country.
“The employee situation is a struggle, it’s always a struggle,” Holbrook’s Embroidery Plus Owner Cameron Flanders said. “No matter pandemic or no pandemic. But the pandemic doubled that and it was a struggle to get employees period. Even in a college town.”
Owners of Holbrook’s Embroidery Plus Cameron and Kari Flanders weren’t sure how they were going to make it through the holiday season, without even one full-time employee.
“So Wes called me one day and said ‘I’m starting this program. My inmates are going to work.’ I said, ‘Heck yeah, man. Send me a couple. Two of the best ones you’ve got, and we’ll see what happens,’” Cameron said.
Coldiron got the rights from the state to start a work program with his inmates.
“The goal is when they get out they have a little bit of money saved up, they can buy a car, they can get a place to live and they’ve also got a job,” Coldiron said.
And now, they’ve got a second chance at life.
“I think coming in though I was scared you know,” said Brandy Moore, an inmate in the Rowan County Jail Work Program.
Two inmates, Moore and Deidra Stearns started working at Holbrook’s back in August.
“You’ve got to talk to people and be around people and when you’ve been in jail, you’re just not used to that. It takes some getting used to again,” Moore said.
But in a few short weeks, the two have learned everything from embroidery, to even taking care of customers.
“We want to represent the whole inmate society. To make a better name for them. To show that people make mistakes, but we can grow from it and change from it,” Stearns said.
Even more than making more money, or the embroidered uniforms, the two are crafting new lives for themselves.
“It’s an accomplishment when you get a big order done, it’s like ‘Yes! I did that. I did that,’” Moore said.
Coldiron said he’s already been contacted by other business owners who want to get involved in the program.
Stearns and Moore have also been offered full-time jobs at Holbrook’s once they’re released.
The Rowan County Jail is also hosting a toy drive from now until Dec. 7. You can drop toys off at the jail Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.