WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – A local nonprofit organization in Warren is transforming the lives of former prison inmates. The goal is to help make their return to society a smooth process.
Martha Conyer and her husband, Walter Allen, started Free Indeed Prison Ministries in 2003. It began with Bible studies every Friday at correctional institutions and grew.
“We found out they had more practical needs,” Conyer said. “They need programs, they needed help in reentering society.”
That meant workshops and programs for former inmates to prepare them for the outside world.
“It would consist of reentry and a program we call Fresh Start, which lasted for six months,” Conyer said.
They’re hoping to give former inmates an extra skill to add to their belts.
“Of course, we taught them how to be interviewed and how to give an interview, and that helped their confidence level so much,” Conyer said.
Brandon Bell was in prison for six years and found the transition tough at first.
“A lot of people would say they feel good but, honestly, it’s scary because you don’t know what you’re coming home to,” he said. “Life has changed and you don’t know how you’re going to survive. It was hard and scary for me.”
Conyer said their 2020 goal is to continue to support these individuals in the journey of rebuilding their lives.
“You have to go in and walk them out. You know more about them when you walk them out. We want to help returning citizens but we also want to help the community.”