Today I would like to share Kayleigh's story with you. Kayleigh (not her real name) is currently serving a federal prison sentence at an institution in British Columbia. This week, she is scheduled to have her parole hearing. She will sit before a panel of several members of the Parole Board of Canada (PBC) who will evaluate whether she is prepared and has the support she needs to serve the rest of her prison sentence in the community. With little support from family and almost no positive connections in the geographical area where she will be released, Kayleigh didn't have high hopes to rebuild her life after several years behind bars. She faced an avalanche of unanswered questions all alone.
Until several months ago, when she learned about Harvest and asked the prison chaplain to be connected with our office. We were able to connect Kayleigh to a local church located blocks away from where she will reside while on parole. This local church has gone through all of Harvest's training phases and is prepared to welcome Kayleigh in a safe and appropriate way. The details around who will pick her up on the day of her release, who will assist with immediate day-to-day needs as she resettles into community life, where she will be employed, and where she will attend church have all been planned. There is a team of six trained and dedicated volunteers, including her mentor, Jenny, who are ready to welcome Kayleigh into their church community. Everything is in place for the day of release. Instead of dread and fear, Kayleigh has a sense of peace as she looks ahead to her new life outside of prison. 'It takes a village', they say. Thankfully, it seems Kayleigh, has found hers.
Yet there are so many others - three to four men or women per prison, per day - who would opt to enter into the kind of relationship Harvest prepares local churches to enter into.
After a year of restrictions and no in-person visits or volunteer-run programs inside any of our correctional facilities, there is much anxiety about dates of release. Unrest and fear of what may come with release into what is a different world continues to grow. By now likely all of us have learned about the ongoing and deepening tragedy of Canada's 'other' crisis that is bearing witness to more deaths and more destruction than we have seen before - the opioid crisis. Facing release from prison alone and without the appropriate support can very quickly cause despair and a return to the vicious and deadly cycle of substance abuse and crime.
We must double our efforts to ensure that more local churches and parishes are well-trained and equipped to welcome people like Kayleigh into their communities. Having a plan in place like Kayleigh does, will make an immeasurable difference. It has the power to actually save lives and establish hope for the future.
In order for this to happen in more communities, we need an additional $9000 added to our monthly giving. That means that if each one of you would commit to a monthly gift of $40, we would be able to meet (and slightly surpass) that goal. Of course, if you are only able to give a one-time gift, we deeply appreciate whatever amount you can contribute. (A tax receipt will be provided for all donations of $20 or more.)
These funds will contribute to Harvest's ability to:
1. Engage with and deliver the three phases of comprehensive training needed to work with former inmates in key areas of reintegration in Canada
2. Resource prison chaplains with local church teams who are ready to engage with men and women in search of a church home before they are released
We hope that you will commit to joining us for this crucial next season of ministry.
Copyright © 2021 Harvest Prison Ministries - All Rights Reserved.
Harvest Prison Ministries
202A – 15225 104 Avenue
Surrey, B.C., Canada
Phone: 1-604-210-2243 Toll Free: 1-877-506-2541
Charitable Registration No. 88090 5302 RR001