Jesus and a Job aims to reduce violent crime

Danielle Lerner

Local activists on Thursday revived the Jesus and a Job program in the West End, the first step in a 10-point plan created in response to Louisville's deadliest year in decades.

Community activists gathered Thursday morning at an abandoned house on 22nd Street to promote a revival of the Jesus and a job program.

About a dozen workers, the majority of them ex-offenders, showed up at an abandoned house at 850 S. 22nd Street ready to renovate the property — and to be part of Louisville's latest anti-violence movement.

The house is one of at least 15 properties Jesus and a Job hopes to have fixed up within the next two months, said founder Rev. Charles Elliott, Jr. of King Solomon Baptist Church. Elliott created the Jesus and a Job campaign in the late '90s to provide work for those struggling with substance abuse or felony records. The goal, he said, is to provide people with an alternative to crime when it comes to providing for their families.

"Since we had so many homicides this past year I got really involved in trying my best to work with these young people that are really desperate," Elliott said. "A lot of robbery and murdering is because people are out there hustling trying to survive."

Jesus and a Job paid the workers $20 per hour for two hours of minor demolition work Thursday morning, funded by donations from Kosair Charities. Elliott said Jesus and a Job, a non-profit, has also received donations from Omni Hotels and Louisville Metro Council.


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Community activist Jerald Muhammad said the initiative is part of the larger goal of employment outlined in the 10-point plan. Many Jesus and a Job participants are referred to the program by organizations including Community Connections Radio Show, Brothers Helping Brothers and Voices of Louisville. Some of the workers on the abandoned homes will be referred to Kentuckiana Works job training programs for construction or manufacturing technician work. Others will be recommended for immediate employment at a local company.

Muhammad said he hoped Jesus and a Job would prepare workers for careers while boosting their confidence. The workers that showed up at 22nd Street ranged in age from 18 to late 50's. All, Muhammad said, were extremely grateful.

"The message is unity," he said.

But around the same time the Jesus and a Job initiative was kicking off, police were responding to Louisville's first homicide of 2017 nearby on S. 13th Street.

Muhammad said he and Elliott are not ignorantly assuming their efforts will permanently stop violence in the city, but are hoping to stop the bleeding little by little.

"We feel like our expectations are reasonable," Muhammad said. "We're never going to completely do away with violence, never going to completely eradicate it. We aim to reduce it and help those that would like to transition out of that lifestyle. Lot of folks tried to get a job, find they can't with a felony record, and that frustration leads back to a life of crime."

Progress, Elliott said, even if made slowly, is still progress.

"We have only one homicide but this time last year we had much more than one," he said. "I just believe Jesus and a Job can solve the problem — but it's going to take all of us contributing and working together to do whatever we can."

Reporter Danielle Lerner can be reached at or 502-582-4042.