The Methodist minister Eli Alston Wilkes, Jr., founded the Alston Wilkes Society (AWS) in 1962 to help criminal offenders and former offenders, among other groups, regain control of their lives and contribute to society. Although Wilkes died soon after—which was the reason for the honorary renaming—his vocation of rehabilitating adult offenders survives through the hard work of the society’s staff and volunteers. In fact, AWS has reached the status of being the largest nonprofit statewide agency of its kind.
Working closely with corrections agencies at both the state and federal levels, the Alston Wilkes Society serves thousands of people every year. It offers statewide city court mediation, counseling, and employment services for offenders/ex-offenders and the homeless. The society also operates adult halfway houses, veterans’ homes, and youth homes. In addition to general services and rehabilitation homes, AWS provides programs such as “Project Take HEART,” which is designed to educate homeless persons and offer them skills training in construction and apartment maintenance. These examples are only some of the larger ways that the Alston Wilkes Society has worked for South Carolina and its citizens. Its success demonstrates the positive impact that volunteer agencies can make by offering hope, help, and a second chance to those in need.
Harry, Jennifer L. “Alston Wilkes Society: Rebuilding Lives, Providing Second Chances.” Corrections Today 64 (August 2002): 14.
Walker, S. Anne. “South Carolina Volunteer Agency Plays Vital Role in Corrections.” Corrections Today 55 (August 1993): 94–99.