‘Family Parachute’ to help Prison Ministry

WARREN — The ”Family Parachute” offers support to men and women returning home from prison or jail, helping to ensure a safe re-entry to their lives and society.

The message of the parachute was shared by several speakers at the annual banquet of Free Indeed Prison Ministries held at Aulizio’s Banquet Center.

Minister Martha Conyer Allen said the Family Parachute is geared to help the families of those who have been incarcerated, offering resources on housing, jobs, family counseling and prison contact information.

”The families help act as the parachute to someone returning home from prison or jail,” she said.

Those at the event said families need the parachute and a support system from social service agencies and mental health programs.

Many spoke on how schools and faith-based organizations provide support for children whose parents are incarcerated.

Warren Municipal Court Judge Thomas Gysegem, who was recognized at the event for his service to Free Indeed Prison Ministries as a board member, said there are so many people who work behind the scenes to help local families when someone is incarcerated.

”I appreciate the recognition. There are so many others who do so much to make the program effective,” he said.

Cleveland Judge Anita Mays said Free Indeed Prison Ministries ”helps hold people up as their lives are being rebuilt.”

”We need ministries like Free Indeed Ministries. It is an excellent program. I like the concept,” she said.

Mays said one of her brothers was incarcerated for drugs for two years.

“You never think this will happen to your own family members or a relative. People make mistakes. He is a brother who I love. Because of this it has given me a different perspective for those who come before me in court,” Mays said.

She said it makes her look at situations differently.

“I want to assist those who are incarcerated and who want to make change in their lives. Many of them have goals and a mission and want to change. They want to help others so they do not go down this road,” she said.

Mays said when someone is incarcerated its hurts their families, noting her brother has a wife and three children.

“When he was incarcerated he missed so much of what his family and children did,” Mays said.

Bob Armstrong of Niles spoke of his son being in prison and the effect it has not only on the immediate family but other relatives, friends and neighbors.

He said he learned of the parachute program when his son was at Trumbull Correctional Institute.

”We learned that all things happen for a reason. Families put their lives on the line for loved ones,”Armstrong said.

He said at TCI, there were many opportunities, including his son attending college classes.

”He is getting his life under control. To him the people in prison have been like a family,” Amstrong said, noting those who get family to visit them in prison tend to have the least amount of problems.

”Family is so important to those in prison,” he said.