Nashville pizza joint helps give women in crisis a second chance

(Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A popular pizza spot in Nashville has partnered with a program to give those that have traveled down the wrong path a second chance.

“I was in and out of prison since I was 18,” Barbie Henry told WKRN.

Henry explained that she used meth for 16 years and went to prison for both manufacturing and distributing it.

“I knew when my kids were taken away from me, when I had nowhere to go, when I was in a prison cell and had no one to call–that’s when I knew it was time to change,” she said.

So Henry found The Next Door, a rehabilitation center for women in crisis.

“On average, we say the success rate is 85 percent. The ladies that are likely go back to prison is less than 16 percent; it’s called recidivism. Our success rate, our graduation rate, is very strong. These ladies typically are not going back to incarceration or back to their old lifestyles. They are leading clean productive sober lives,” said Katie McKinnie, the community partnership coordinator of The Next Door.

Part of the requirement in the program is that you have to get a job.

Henry said she hadn’t worked in 15 years, but the non-profit organization helped her create a resume of her experience in prison.

(Photo: WKRN)
(Photo: WKRN)

“We have a workforce developer at The Next Door that helps take every experience possible, from mopping floors to painting walls,” she explained.

Henry underwent an extensive interview course and applied for a job at Donatos Pizza, terrified of checking the felon box on the application.

“It was a breath of fresh air to find somebody to look beyond the box to see who I was,” said Henry.

Not only did Donatos hire her, but they have now hired three more women from the organization.

“People that are very motivated to get back in the work force and you can get some of your most loyal people that are people just begging for a second chance,” Dave Parsons with Donatos explained.

Henry was hired as an associate six months ago when the store first opened and was recently promoted to management.

“She’s done incredibly well. She’s such a valuable member of this team. We trust her so much,” said Parsons.

Transitioning women like Henry from prison to work plays a major role in The Next Doors success rate.

“When they get up and feel like they have purpose and have to go to a job everyday where people are counting on them that’s a big part of it, it’s what motivated them  to stay sober to stay successful and remain in the program for the duration,” explained McKinnie.

Henry has now been sober for 16 months. She thanks The Next Door and Donatos for restoring her faith.

“It’s the greatest accomplishment in my whole life. I managed to stay clean, to hold down a job, to reunite with my kids, to see my family again. It’s awesome. I’m looking forward to the rest of my life,”

Henry was among those honored Thursday night for completing the program.

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