Restaurant helps women with prison records

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Monique Maddox runs a tight ship at Second Helping on Central Avenue. But more than 10 years ago, the manager of this brand new restaurant was running drugs. Every woman working at Second Helping has a record, but here, that doesn't matter.

"I didn't sleep last night. I tossed and turned, I was up at 4," said Maddox. The restaurant serves a "meat and 3" type fare. Specialties include Carolina Shrimp and Grits, Slammin' Braised Pork, and fried chicken.

Monday was opening day. And while customers might see a new storefront,  or a new sign, Melissa Mummert sees 7 women with new lives.

"7 women are with their families, paying taxes, smiling," said Mummert who heads up a Non-Profit with the same name as the restaurant. That group along with its parent company, Changed Choices, is committed to helping women find their way after prison.

"They would come out into the population with stellar skills and stellar resumes but employers just weren't hiring people with criminal records. So we decided we'll just create a business and we'll just create the jobs ourselves," said Mummert.

In North Carolina, almost 40 percent of women released from prison will be arrested again within 3 years. Mummert says this program aims to put a dent in that number by helping women with counseling, support, and employment.

Rhonda Belk worked the register Monday as dozens of customers came in to check out the new eatery. She says the opportunity to work at Second Helping has changed her life.

"A lot of us when we're released we come out with absolutely nothing and to come out with changed choices and second helping and have a job and a place and a support group means a lot. And to have mentors and all. Without their encouragement, I wouldn't be here."

Copyright 2013 WBTV. All rights reserved.