By Chuck Gipson
"This is my chance to give of myself after taking from others for so many years," said Danielle Overby. "Today gives me an opportunity to show my appreciation for the Christmas love that was shown to us last month.”
Overby is one of the women at Orlando Community Work Release Center that were given an extended furlough to serve at Journey Christian Church in dividing up food for the church’s Food for Life ministry. Overby is scheduled to be released in 10 days, but she still wished to help out.
Work release is that portion of the Community Release Program that allows selected inmates to work at paid employment in the community during the last months of their confinement. Inmates must return to the Department's custody at the end of each workday. However some take the extra step of volunteering.
This past Sunday, those volunteers from the Center served at Journey Christian Church for their Food for Life ministry. Food for Life is a monthly service provided for Apopka's less fortunate citizens who are in need of food, clothing and other essentials. Every fifth Sunday, thousands of non-perishable food items are brought into the church, thus beginning the painstaking task of dividing them into hundreds of bags that are distributed to those in need. The volunteers from the Work Release Program have taken on this task for the past few months and the results have been amazing.
“We could not do this ministry with as much success if not for these ladies that volunteer their time," said Chuck Shegda, Journey’s Food for Life director. "They have increased our productivity by 80%. It encourages me to see these women given the opportunity to be seen as positive contributors to society and not merely inmates who show up to church. They have reinvigorated my passion for the ministry and we absolutely love having them be an integral part of this work.”
And for the volunteers, one good turn deserves another.
“I have received so much dignity and acceptance from the people in this church community," said Aimee Chiglinsky, a recent arrival to the center. "I can’t help but give back.
"This means so much to these ladies to be able to give back and be a part of something special.” said Al Hoover, Co-founder with his wife Sue of Just As You Are Ministries (JAYA). “It really touches me to see these women who have so little, give back so much to the community. Every Sunday morning, I see many of these ladies giving a portion of what little money they have to those even less fortunate than them.”
JAYA is a non profit 501(c)3 organization that serves the female prisoners at the Florida Department of Correction’s Orlando Community Release Center. JAYA also provides transitional housing for those who wish to stay in the Orange County area after their release. The founders of the ministry, Al and Sue Hoover, attend Journey Christian Church in Apopka.
For more information about JAYA use this link: Just As You Are Ministries
Chuck Gipson is a full-time missionary with Campus Crusade for Christ (Cru), part time volunteer with JAYA, and a correspondent with The Apopka Voice.
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