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Foundation that helps former inmates on verge of closing

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- They help those cast out of society -- felons and the families left behind. The Gracious Promise Foundation helps former inmates and their families see a brighter future. But now, due to a lack of funding, the foundation is on the verge of closing its doors.

"My crime was being a drug addict and all I needed was for somebody to let me get past that," said Carla Simpson, a convicted felon.

For Simpson, Gracious Promise meant a second chance.

"It's a dark place you know," Simpson said about her 25 drug addicted years.

She says it was meth that took her son who was killed in a drug deal, sent her daughter away for 20 to life and landed Simpson herself hard time in a Missouri prison.

"It took losing my son, it took losing my daughter to prison and then you know, me going back ... before I would change my life," she said.

Clean and sober for 13 years -- life still wasn't easy for the 59-year-old grandmother.

"I saw the man take my application and stick it clear in the back," she said of turning in job application after job application.

Like many convicted felons, Simpson says few are willing to give an ex-con a chance.

"I actually started crying right there because I said you're not even going to give me a chance to see what kind of a person that I am," she said.

Simpson says without Gracious Promise, she'd still be lost. Four years ago it helped send her to college -- where she just graduated with honors.

"I think now I'll have a chance at life, and it's all because of them. Because they cared enough to help," she said.

For others, the foundation may just help find housing, get proper identification or support family members , the "other" victims of crime.

"We're not miracle workers here, we just try to connect people and build hope and support people who most would forget about," said Executive Director Shirley Miller.

Miller says Gracious Promise is out of money and almost out of time. And now it's reaching out to the community to help bridge the gap.

Miller says the Foundation has cut operating costs to $130,000 a year -- all while still serving more than 1,000 families a year.

On Tuesday, the foundation's board was in talks with a metro church to possibly step in and save the day. But Gracious Promise needs $25,000 by the end of the week to keep its doors open for now.

For more information on the foundation, visit their website or call 913-342-1707.

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