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Community Spotlight: Kingsway Prison and Family Outreach

Published: Feb. 7, 2022 at 6:50 AM EST
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Since 1983, Kingsway Prison and Family Outreach has been helping inmates and people coming out of prison get re-established in the community.

The organization is staffed entirely by volunteers who make sure everyone is shown love and compassion.

“That’s essentially what we’re about, loving our neighbors,” Vicki Barb, volunteer and President of the Board of Kingsway Prison and Family Outreach, said.

One way volunteers at Kingsway are showing that love this month is by sending out around 2,300 Valentine’s cards to inmates across Virginia.

“Most of them never receive anything in the mail, and to hear their name called to receive mail really means something to them,” Louise Jennings, Kingsway’s Director, said.

And while the organization is letting people on the inside know they are loved and cared for, Kingsway is devoted to helping those on the outside, too.

“We need to know what their specific need is, their most urgent need. Most of them re-entering is the phone so they can get in touch with their probation officer, try to find a job,” Barb explained.

But the help doesn’t stop there.

“Sometimes they need to come back a second time to maybe help with their light bill, or their baby was sick and they needed help. That’s what Kingsway provides. We provide that extra little “umpf” that society can’t give,” she added.

It’s things like this that have really made a difference in those returning to society.

“This guy tapped on my window and said, ‘I just wanted to say thank you.’ And he said, four years ago, he came out of jail, and he said, ‘you gave me a telephone, and you took me where I needed to go... I have not been back inside the prison... And I’ve been working ever since you helped me get a job,’” Jennings said.

The organization has been serving the Harrisonburg-Rockingham community for nearly 40 years and are now working to raise money to hire a paid director to carry on their work for years to come.

“I started going into prisons in 1977, and I’ve never stopped, and I’m now 86 years old. We need somebody that we know can handle the everyday operation,” Jennings said.

If you would like to get involved with Kingsway Prison and Family Outreach, you can call (540) 433-5658 or visit kingswayoutreach.org.

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