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
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 Marketing
A graduate of Vanderbilt University, Catherine brings almost 20 years of design and marketing experience to Soteria. She gets the word out about all the good things going on both at Soteria, CDC and Soteria At Work.
Director of Development
Sophia leads the efforts to fund the incredible work being done by the organization as our Director of Development. As an intern during her undergraduate studies at Furman University, she was inspired by the mission to aid and assist those in need. Sophia, through her own experiences and education, possesses a unique insight into the importance of commitment into building a community that can thrive. She uses her passion for writing with meticulous attention to detail to create proposals for state, federal, and foundation grants.
Sophia grew up just outside of Boston, Massachusetts and chose the South Carolina upstate to continue her education. She is a graduate of Furman University in Greenville, SC with Bachelor of Arts degrees in Urban Studies and Music. Recently, Sophia also has obtained Grant Writing Certification from the University of South Carolina.
Sophia, a classically trained violinist, is enthusiastic about all genres of music, art and the Boston Red Sox. Please email at [email protected] to contact.
Soteria At Work, Project Manager
Wallace Justice is the Deconstruction Project Manager for Soteria At Work.
Wallace joined Soteria in 2017 and has given 110% to become a positive, productive member of society. This man loves good hard labor, and it shows. His deep understanding of construction combined with his maturity and motivation make Wallace one fine Project Manager. We are proud to have him.
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
Joey is currently enrolled as an intern at Soteria CDC and joined the Soteria At Work team after completing his first six months in our program. Joey brings life and positivity to the team, and he works like he knows that good things will come from diligence and determination.
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 college internships to students interested in gaining experience in community development and social justice.
Mental Health & Coaching
Our Board of Directors
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