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Time in prison can be a time of reflection, and a turning point in a woman’s life. Many have a real desire for a change. Yet, many women are released with no better plans of how to live than when they went in. Without healthy relationships and a supportive environment that fosters community connectedness, she will turn to the only thing she has known.
The Houston area receives about 2,600 women who are released from state prisons and jails each year. According to an Urban Institute study of women returning to Harris County, about 17% of them are virtually homeless. A large portion of the other 83% are returning to unsafe, unstable environments.
“Having a peaceful home like this to live in after coming out of prison is a blessing beyond words. It offered me a safe place to reintegrate back into society. Most importantly it gave me a chance to learn to walk with the Lord outside the prison walls. I was able to get my life back on track in a way that I would not have been able to on my own.” Laurie Hill, successfully reintegrated citizen.
In January of 2017, Portal Houston will open the first in a series of discipleship homes designed specifically for women at various levels of risk and need. Portal Houston matches residential care with the women who will be coming home to live there. Whole Heart in Spring will be shaped for women who have served long or multiple sentences, and have instances of abuse and trauma. At Whole Heart, they will be able to get the counseling and healing they need in a loving supportive environment. When they are ready, they will have opportunity to enhance their education and prepare for a career. The program will be long-term, on a case-by-case basis, and each woman will have a reentry coach to help her with decisions along their personal path. Reentry coaches help with family reconciliation, job readiness, money management, and much much more. The Coach is a sister who helps expand her mentee’s social support system among people of like precious faith.
Women come to prison broken, but they are being met there by a God who empowers them with His love. When they are released to the community, they will find favor in the family of God. She will find hope and healing, and He will make her heart whole again.
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