Executive Director of Soteria CDC
Jerry Blassingame is the Founder and CEO of Soteria Community Development Corporation. He endeavors to empower individuals and the community through education, affordable housing, financial literacy, community and economic development, and entrepreneurship. His passion is assisting individuals who have been incarcerated through reentry and helping them to become productive citizens.
Jerry attended Columbia International University and studied architectural engineering at Greenville Technical College. Jerry received a 20 year prison sentence in 1995 and only served 3 1/2 years after being paroled in 1999. He is also a Social Entrepreneur who believes in social enterprise for the non-profit sector. Jerry has continued to fight for change in legislation since he was granted a pardon in 2004. After 14 years of advocacy, South Carolina passed its first legislation to expunge felony drug charges in December of 2018.
In 2018, Jerry published his first book, Reclaimed, a memoir that details his story from tragedy to triumph.
Jerry lives in Greenville South Carolina with his wife, Stephanie of 20 years and 3 of their 6 kids. He is an active part of the community and an advocate for economic and social justice.
Soteria CDC has continued to receive recognition for its community service:
- In 2004, received outstanding Prison Aftercare Award from Transition of Prisoners Inc.
- In September 2008, at the Housing and Community Economic Development Conference, Soteria CDC received the South Carolina Association of Community Development Corporations Award for outstanding leadership and service to low-income neighborhoods and communities in Greenville County.
- In January 2009, at the Greater Greenville Chamber of Commerce annual meeting, received the Max Heller Neighborhood Improvement Award for exemplary efforts towards neighborhood improvement and empowerment.
- 2009-2010 Graduate of the Leadership Greenville class 36
- 2010-2012 Jerry served on the PTA board for AJ Whittenberg Elementary as President Elect and 2012-2013 as President. Also served as President Elect for Southwest Council PTA of Greenville County as.
- In 2013, received an award from Institute of Prison Ministry for prison aftercare.
- In 2014, received a Chuck Colson scholarship to attend Wheaton College correctional ministries program
- 2014-2015 PTSA President of PJ Fisher Middle School
- 2015, certified at Wheaton College in correctional ministries as a re-entry specialist.
- In 2015, became the Vice President of Correctional Ministries and Chaplain Association International based out of Wheaton College through the Institute for Prison Ministries
- 2016 Fellow of Just Leadership USA
- 2016 Chair of the Greenville Reentry Coalition
- 2018 Aspen Institute Healthy Communities Fellow
- 2019 Greenville Chamber of Commerce Buck Mickel Award for Community Development
- 2016-2019 Vice President Correctional Ministries & Chaplains Association
- 2019-2021 President Correctional Ministries & Chaplains Association
Director of Operations
Denise Patterson-Jones is the Director of Operations and Property Manager of Soteria Community Development Corporation.
Denise, a graduate of Eastside High School, continued her education at Greenville Technical College from 2008-2013 where she received her Associate Degrees in Business Management, Marketing, Supply Chain Management and Accounting. In November 2007, she began volunteering at Soteria CDC as an appointment setter for the Ministry of Resources Benevolence Ministry. In May 2011, she started an Internship for Soteria’s Green Start Recycling before coming onboard as staff in July 2011 as Soteria Program Manager. As the need expanded, so did Denise’s role into Administrative Assistant and Property Manager. In seeing a need of managing the housing of Soteria CDC, she went back to Greenville Tech in August 2012 and received certification in Property Management. Shortly thereafter in January 2014, she became a Notary Public for The State of South Carolina. In her spare time she loves to be “YaYa” to her six grandchildren.
Denise lives in Greenville with her husband, Melvin, and they have a blended family of eight children and six grandchildren.
Director of Programs for Men
Bob Norwood came to Soteria as an intern in 2019 and quickly established himself as an invaluable part of the Soteria family. His first role was to help Denise cover the front desk, to field phone calls, and to be the face of the front office.
After graduating our 12 month program, Bob naturally rolled into the role of Director of Programs and joined our full time staff. He now oversees our intern activity, from the needs of Soteria House to the interns’ education, job training, transportation, and support services.
Director of Programs for Women
April is an alumni of The Institute for Prison Ministries at Wheaton College. She is also the founder of ‘Beyond the RazorWire’ an online peer support community for formerly incarcerated women in S.C. after her own release from prison in 2011.
In 2015 she published her first book, ‘31 days and a Wake Up: My Journey Back to Freedom’ that chronicles the myriad of emotions she experienced during the final month of her incarceration.
April has been a local entrepreneur since 2014 and enjoys crafting and cooking in her spare time. Her and her husband Bernard reside in Simpsonville, S.C. and share a blended family of 5 children and 3 grandchildren.
Her quote to live by is, “It is every man’s obligation to put back into the world, at least the equivalent of what he takes out of it.”
– Albert Einstein
Christopher is an ordained Minister of Christ who serves current and formerly incarcerated people in several capacities:
- Case Manager for the men’s program at Soteria Community Development Corporation
- Board and Executive Committee member of the Tyger River Chapel Foundation, an organization created to construct and support a chapel on the lower yard of the Tyger River Correctional Institute in Spartanburg County, South Carolina
- Founder and Director of Falling Chains, a 501(c)3 that encourages, educates, and equips the Church to be active participants in the reentry process, and provides program development and evaluation for organizations that serve incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people
- Member of the “True Value” Leighton Ford Mentoring Community
- Member of Church at the Mill
- Graduate of the Cross-Examined Instructors Academy, where he received advanced apologetics presentation training
Beginning in high school and during his freshman year at North Carolina State University, Christopher made a series of bad decisions that resulted in a life sentence. He was released in 2007 after 17-1/2 years of incarceration and made a decision to follow Christ six months later. He married Jennifer in late 2008, inheriting two wonderful daughters in the process. After his 5-year parole ended, Christopher successfully completed coursework at Wheaton College, where he received a Certification in Reentry Ministry as a Charles W. Colson Scholarship recipient. In January 2017, he received his ordination as a Minister of Christ. Christopher and Jennifer live near Spartanburg, South Carolina.
Soteria At Work Artisan
Soteria At Work is the on-site job skill training program at Soteria. We teach the men how to deconstruct houses and then use the wood to build furniture and artifacts. Jonathan joined the Soteria At Work team when he first enrolled in our Reentry Program and became a full time employee after graduating. He now teaches the trade to new interns.
Soteria At Work Artisan
Cody is currently enrolled as an intern at Soteria CDC and joined the Soteria At Work team after completing his first 30 days in our program. Cody works hard with a great attitude, is eager to learn, and we are thrilled to have him.
Soteria At Work Artisan
Kenneth is currently enrolled as an intern at Soteria CDC and joined the Soteria At Work team after completing his first 30 days in our program. Kenneth’s calm presence and quiet confidence bless us all day every day.
Soteria At Work is the on-site job skill training program at Soteria. We teach the men how to deconstruct houses and then use the wood to build furniture and artifacts. Our tagline, “Reclaiming Wood, Reclaiming Lives” rings true every day as the men build tangible skills for future job opportunities in addition to the intangibles like work ethic, time management, and leadership skills.
George | Artisan
Jonathan | Artisan
Soteria CDC is proud to offer internships to students interested in gaining experience in community development and social justice.
Mary Grace Walker
Eastside High School
Our Board of Directors
Interested in future opportunities with our Board?
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Soteria CDC, Founder
Brooke Culclasure, Chair
Furman University, Research Director
South Carolina State University
RSB Accounting & Tax Service
Anchor Radiology (Retired)
Milliken, Corporate Counsel Attorney
Franklin American Mortgage Company
God’s True Disciples, Founder
Village Church, Director of Operations