|Joyful Souls aftercare poster|
10 IDEAS FOR GETTING STARTED
Theresa Bauer from SC wrote to me about her jail ministry. She read "The Women of Block 12" on Kindle and said it was like reading about her own experiences. She also asked about mentoring ex-offenders. Thank you, Theresa for your encouragement and questions.
Our Joyful Souls Aftercare group has just hit the one-year anniversaary mark! I personally never thought we'd make it (oh woman of little faith!)
We started out kind of slow. There were only two clients and a couple of mentors. For a while there were more mentors than clients! I got pretty discouraged. Our ministry thought our idea was too far out there and that we'd never have enought to do. Boy, were they ever wrong! As for me, I had one of my bright ideas (or maybe it was the Holy Spirit nudging me) and not much faith to go along with the idea. Talking about being wrong, I needed an attitude adjustment - which my friends gladly gave me!
God has truly blessed our efforts. We meet on Friday evenings from 6:00 to 8:00. I picked that night because it is a time when women offenders are looking for something fun to do, and while their old choices may be fun, they are often not such a good idea.
How to get started:
- Find a free meeting place that is on a bus line for easy access. Your church, or a community center. We meet at the St. Vincent dePaul Thrift Store.
- Design a poster - pass out to churches, women's shelters, probation and parole officers, meal sites and food pantries. Our poster emphasizes, FAITH, FUN, FRIENDS, FOOD.
- Make business cards for you ministry to hand out during jail visits - if permitted.
- Tell everyone you know about this new group - people may be willing to help
- Ask friends, church members, etc. to come and speak to the group about various topics (i.e. job readiness, women's health, community volunteer opportrunities, hobbies, make-up (Mary Kay distributors will give free classes), photography, yoga, essential oils, line dancing, cardmaking, favorite Bible stories, personal testimonies of faith - the possibilities are only limited by your imagination and the number of people you know..
- Make a list of ideas and start putting speakers on your calendar.
- Ask church members to be mentors or provide treats for the meetings - some of our friends have brought a whole meal!
- Start with a get-to-know-you fun night. Use name tags. Play Bingo with yard sale prizes.
- Make sure you get names and phone numbers of guests. Call them the following week to invite again.
- Provide a list of community resources - clothing, health care, meals etc. for the women to take with them. Your local health and human services will have this information.
Your questions and suggestions are welcome!
For more information on women offenders, please visit: