Since 2003, HeartBound Ministries has provided programs and resources to meet the needs of the prison community - incarcerated people, their families, and correctional staff - changing the culture from one of crime and incarceration to hope and restoration. We provide literacy programs, therapeutic art programs, free trauma counseling services, mentoring, spiritual support, life skills training, parenting classes, a college degree program for incarcerated women, and other programs for incarcerated youth and adults.
HeartBound believes that the prison system can be more than just a place where people “serve time.” We envision a prison system where lives are healed, transformed, and redeemed. We see a future where the cycle of crime and incarceration is broken, recidivism rates are reduced dramatically, and prisoners are restored to their families, communities, and faith.
The cycle of crime and incarceration is a concern for all citizens, and the relationship between education and lower recidivism is well demonstrated. The "Ambassadors of Hope" campaign supports a historic educational initiative - the second women’s prison seminary in the country and the first and only in Georgia – at Whitworth Women’s Facility, a 430-bed facility in Hartwell, Georgia. Funding will help provide a four-year, 126 semester hour Bachelor of Arts degree for 14 students who are continuing their seminary education.
When our first cohort of seminary students at Whitworth Women's Facility graduated with their Associate degrees in May 2021, HeartBound got to witness the impact of our seminary ladies, these "Ambassadors of Hope," firsthand. We are honored to support, empower, and educate these women. Of the women who have been released after completing the seminary program, 0% have re-offended, 0% have relapsed, 100% have reunited with their families, and 50% are continuing their education. Simply put, this program CHANGES LIVES.
Why support a seminary program for incarcerated women? One of our students, Lorrie, said it best:
“Nobody in prison says that this is a bucket list item. Nobody says, ‘I want to go to prison.’ And nobody thinks they’re coming here until they’re here. And when I got here what I realized, without even knowing it, was that I was being healed in this program in ways that I didn’t know I needed healing. There was even a field practicum that they made from scratch that was geared toward one of the biggest things - domestic violence. It’s made a huge difference, a difference in my family. My mom and I are having a better relationship. It’s just all the way around. I can see it. It’s a ripple effect.”
Through the seminary, incarcerated women are profoundly impacted and equipped to build a legacy in their facility, their families, and beyond. The seminarians mentor and impart into the lives of their inmate peers, the staff, and their families. These students may not be released for decades, but peers and staff are coming to them, being changed, and then being dispersed back into their communities as transformed human beings.
To quote another student who spoke about her seminary education, "It's the best investment that you will ever make." We couldn’t agree more, and HeartBound invites you to join us in raising $100,000 to provide a college education for incarcerated women. Thank your support!
Andrea Shelton, President