Indy Chamber member Use What You’ve Got Prison Ministry is a nonprofit organization that serves the families and friends of incarcerated individuals by providing transportation to 16 Indiana state prisons, something that is often inaccessible for lower-income populations. Cecelia Whitfield, Founder and Executive Director of the ministry, started providing this service in 1998 after finding out that her son was facing 40 years in prison. In the 20 years since its start, the organization averages 10-12 trips per month to the different Indiana prisons. They are the only shuttle service of this kind in Indiana.
“Research has proven how important is it for the families to stay connected with their loved ones who are incarcerated, both in prisons and juvenile facilities,” says Whitfield. One such article speaks specifically to the impact of children visiting their parents. “If all inmates were to get just one visit, that would help the recidivism rate 13%.” Her passion for reducing recidivism- repeat incarceration- is echoed by the Chamber’s own REDi (ReEntry Economic Development Initiative) program, which exists to provide technical business training to incarcerated or formerly-incarcerated individuals. “If we can keep 46 people in Marion County from returning back [to prison], it will save Marion County 1.5 million dollars,” emphasizes Whitfield.
Whitfield joined the Indy Chamber to take advantage of growth resources and networking opportunities.
“I utilize the Chamber’s services by being a part of the different events, like the Women’s Business Breakfast. Those types of professional development opportunities are very important for the growth of any organization — you have to stay connected, you have to know what’s going on in the community, and let people know that we are in the community. Going to these events you meet great people. That’s been wonderful.”
You can learn more about Use What You’ve Got Prison Ministry and find opportunities to support them HERE on their Indy Chamber Volunteer Connector page.