Everyday Hero: Woman helps women recently released from prison

By Bill Murphy, Everyday Hero Host
Last Updated: Monday, January 02, 2017, 7:50 AM EST

For Janet Smith and Shannon, Haven of Hope is a place of love, understanding, and hope.

  • Haven of Hope started in December 2015
  • Program usually lasts for a year
  • To find out more or to volunteer, visit havenofhopehc.org

Ruskin’s Haven of Hope is a faith-based, nonprofit, volunteer-driven support program for women recently released from prison.

It started in December 2015 after Smith had volunteered for several years in a program that worked with women inmates. When that program came to an end, Smith knew the work had to continue.

“We became acquainted with many women in the prison system who, for some reason, didn’t have a place to go when they left prison and we saw that need and we had a love for these ladies and we really became close to many of them,” Smith said.

The program usually lasts for a year and provides a place to call home, helping them to find employment, as well as mentoring and numerous classes.  Their cost is $100 a week after a one-month grace period.  There is room for five residents at time, with 16 women this first year.

For 30-year-old Shannon, who spent two and a half years in prison on a drug-related conviction, and who is now house leader here, her continued progress has a very important goal.

“I’ve done some parenting classes,” Shannon said.  “I have three small children.  It’s helped me with some life skill classes for my case plan to get my children back.”

And Smith minces no words on one particular topic.

“They’re in prison because of the justice system,” Smith said.  “Not because they’re bad people.  I’ve just found out that there’s a lot of bad things in the justice system that puts people in prison for many, many years when they don’t deserve it.”

Supported by grants and contributions, Smith acknowledges that not every outcome they get is a positive one. She chooses to focus on the good.

“It’s been disappointing to have some that we thought were going to make it, but it’s been so rewarding to see those that do make it,” Smith said.