Christmas holidays. It’s celebrating Christ’s birth and a chance to get together with family, exchange gifts, and eat a special meal together. It’s cute cards and fun parties and snuggling by a fire while watching favorite movies. For those incarcerated and their families, Christmas can be very different. There’s loneliness and financial hardship and a reality of being unable to celebrate like others.
70×7 Life Recovery serves those incarcerated, returning home, and their families.
Cards for Prisoners matches inmates with pen pals for supervised correspondences. This year, at Pen Pal Palooza, volunteers wrote notes of encouragement, signed, and addressed over 900 Christmas cards which were mailed to inmates in our Cards for Prisoners program. Many who received a card are still on our waiting list hoping for a pen pal; the need for Pen Pals has grown as our program expands!
70×7 also has ongoing programing in Kent & Ottawa County Jails. Pathways to Purpose is offered to men, Women of Worth to the ladies. Both classes are extremely well received and have waiting lists to join! In 2022, 70×7 found ways to reach the families and bless the children of those in jail. We co-hosted Moms Not Forgotten and Dads Not Forgotten events at the Kent County Correctional Facility (KCCF). It was a special day for these parents with music and speakers and treats, and each parent was given a meaningful book to write a special message to their child which was then delivered to them.
For Christmas, with church partners and generous donors, we launched PRAYERS, PURPOSE, AND PAJAMAS. Why?
• Prayers! Everyone needs prayers – especially those in challenging situations
• Purpose! A connection with the incarcerated and their loved ones
• Pajamas! For a cozy Christmas
We collected cozy pajamas and stuffed animals for the children of those incarcerated in Kent & Ottawa County jails. The sheriff departments provided us with the contact information for the inmates’ families; the families were invited to our offices to choose new, snugly pajamas and stuffed animals to take home for Christmas and learn more about how we can help. It was a truly beautiful event and we look forward to being able to help these families going forward as well!
This event was featured on FOX 17 news on December 21, 2022
Submitted by Cheryl Wyma
Diaconal Ministry Report