The Mephibosheth Project, known as MPI, has been officially recognized by the N.C. Department of Public Safety as a re-entry program for ex-offenders, officials announced during a meeting inside the Walnut Building at Wayne Community College Wednesday.

Marvin Alexander, who serves as executive director of MPI, was excited when the announcement was made. He said the Governor's Crime Prevention program has a put a strong push on re-entry programs within the state.

"This program not only assists those returning back to our community, but the potential to become viable employees," Alexander said. "The reality is that there are skills in the prison. There is talent, and the majority will need a chance and a helping hand."

MPI was formed in 2007 to help those who have been incarcerated re-enter into the community after they are released. Over the years, the program has helped countless men and women gain a solid footing back into the community, with employment opportunities and housing, Alexander said.

"The original concept was to provide a service that would open the doors of faith and hope in the hearts of those that may have made some less than positive choices along their journey of life," Alexander said.

William Head, of Goldsboro, was released from prison five months ago and said that the program has been a benefit.

"I look forward to attending the classes that are offered," Head said. "They have been a blessing for me. I like the knowledge and the training that I'm getting."

During the event, Jennifer Heath, with the Day Reporting Center, gave an overview of the program. She also talked about the funding needed to support the program.

Mayor Chuck Allen and Wayne County Commissioner Bill Pate attended, along with Adam Caldwell from the office of U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C.

Rob Whitner, another Goldsboro resident, spoke during the event to encourage leaders to support MPI. Whitner went through a program similar to MPI after being released from prison in 2014.

"When I got out of prison in 2014, I did not have a lot of things going for me," he said. "Thanks to a program in South Carolina like the one you have here, I was able to gain employment and housing.

"I am here today to advocate for those who don't have a voice that if you would help them, there are a lot of men and women that will be very grateful and will make the most of the opportunity."

The mission of MPI is to help those who may have a crippled perception of how they see themselves get back into their intended place of purpose and productivity.

MPI provides multiple services, including mentoring, re-entry support, goal assessment, social skills, parenting skills, continuing education, job skills and career readiness.

The Mephibosheth Project helps with North Carolina's prison population of 37,024 people, according to figures provided by the N.C. Department of Public Safety.

The average cost of each prisoner in the state system is estimated at $35,252. On average, an estimated five to 10 ex-offenders are released into Wayne County each month, state figures show.