Storybook Project Prison Ministry

Beginning in the 1980s, the U.S. adopted “tough on crime” laws that have filled our prisons with mostly nonviolent offenders. This policy failed to rehabilitate prisoners and many were worse on release than before incarceration. The U.S. has approximately 2.2 million men and women in prison. In addition, we have about 4.5 million adults living in our communities who are on probation or parole. These statistics are astounding and far exceed any other country in the world. In Montgomery County alone, there are approximately 850 men and 1160 women in jail or prison. 
 
So there is plenty of work that needs to be done by America’s Christians as they follow the direction laid out in Hebrews 13:3, “Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.” Epiphany’s volunteers in the Storybook Project are doing their part to support those in prison and their extended families.
Our ministry is built around the simple idea that men and women in prison should have the opportunity to read to the children they love. We visit with both men and women inmates at the MonDay Community Correctional Institution on Saturday afternoons. We take children’s books, and CD recorders. The men and women choose books that are appropriate for their children and record those books onto a CD, along with a personal message of love for the child. The books and CDs are then mailed to the children so they can hear their mother’s or father’s voice and know that they are loved and missed. 
 
Who benefits from this ministry?

  • The children, because their parent is sending them much needed love by way of a recorded book while they are separated.
  • The inmates, because we are giving them an opportunity to communicate with their children in a meaningful way and feeling good about themselves in the process.
  • The community, because we are encouraging continued bonds between inmates and their families that will hopefully continue after the inmate’s release.
  • The caregivers, of the children who are encouraged by the love that is sent not only to the children but to the entire family that is suffering while their loved one is in prison.
  • The volunteers, who receive a great deal of gratitude from the inmates.
We have been visiting prisoners since 2001 and have sent over 10,000 recordings and books. Linda Schafer is one of our volunteers and one of Epiphany’s unsung heroes. She has crocheted over 5000 bookmark crosses that are sent to the men and women who care for the children of incarcerated parents. What a wonderful way to say thank you for all that these caregivers do.
 
Here is an excerpt from one of the many thank you letters we receive. “We would like to thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, for including (our daughter) and (her son), in your Storybook Project. We cannot tell you how good it was to hear her voice in such a wonderful way. It had been several months since (her son) had heard her voice and his little face just lit up. It’s nice to know that there are people such as yourselves involved with the people at MonDay.”
 
To get more information about participating with this ministry, call the Church Office at 937-433-1449 or email serve@epiphanydayton.orgWe are in constant need of funds to buy books, CDs, jewel cases, mailers and postage. Please consider helping the Storybook ministry with a donation. Thank you.