South Abington Township-based nonprofit prison ministry Bound Together designates Sept. 19 as Prisoner Awareness Day


Community members encouraged to pray for inmates, family members

By Elizabeth Baumeister - ebaumeister@timesleader.com



Julie and Jamie Overholser, of South Abington Township started Bound Together in the fall of 2013. The faith-based ministry is named after a portion of the scripture verse, Hebrews 13:3, which says, “Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them.” (King James Version)


Elizabeth Burmeister file photo | Abington Journal

South Abington Township couple Jamie and Julie Overholser, founders of the prison ministry Bound Together, are asking people all over the country to join them in acknowledging Sept. 19 as National Prisoner Awareness Day, by driving by area prisons and praying for the inmates within those walls and their family members and friends on the outside.


Submitted artwork

Where to go

For Prisoner Awareness Day, Monday, Sept. 19, Bound Together is encouraging people to drive by local prisons and pray for the inmates and their families, then post the activity on social media, tagging the faith-based prison ministry’s Facebook page. The following is a list of county, state and federal prisons located in Lackawanna and adjacent counties.

• Carbon County Correctional Facility, 331 Broad St., Nesquehoning

• Lackawanna County Prison, 1371 N. Washington Ave., Scranton

• Luzerne County Correctional Facility, 99 Water St., Wilkes-Barre

• Monroe County Correctional Facility, 4250 Manor Drive, Stroudsburg

• Pike County Correctional Facility, 175 Pike County Blvd., Hawley

• SCI Dallas, 1000 Follies Road, Dallas

• SCI Retreat, 660 State Route 11, Hunlock Creek

• SCI Waymart, 100 US-6, Waymart

• Susquehanna County Correctional Facility, 137 Ellsworth Drive, Montrose

• USP Canaan, 3057 Easton Turnpike, Waymart

• Wayne County Correctional Facility, 44 Mid-Wayne Drive, Honesdale

• Wyoming County Correctional Facility, 10 Stark St., Tunkhannock

SOUTH ABINGTON TWP. — Bacon, talking like a pirate and red squirrels all have at least one thing in common: each of these topics has a national day or week in September devoted to it.

But local couple Jamie and Julie Overholser hope to add something to this calendar that, to them, is much more meaningful: prison inmate awareness.

“I just figured, if there is a day for butterscotch pudding awareness, and talk like a pirate day, then why has no one ever created a day for prisoner awareness?” Julie Overholser said.

So she and her husband, who is the lead pastor at the newly re-located Crossroads Church in Clarks Summit, are doing just that.

Through their prison ministry Bound Together, they designated Monday, Sept. 19 as the first Prisoner Awareness Day and are working with the office of U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta (PA-11) to put it on the national calendar.

Their challenge for each person who would like to get involved is to drive or ride by a local prison on that day and pray for the people who are incarcerated there, as well as their families on the outside. They are asking each person who does so to then visit the “Bound Together Prison Ministry” Facebook page and post about their involvement.

“We want to encourage people in our communities and our churches to drive by a prison, to not just see concrete and razor wire and steel, but to imagine the men and the women who live behind bars,” Julie Overholser said. “The moms and dads. The husbands. The wives. They’re somebody’s sons. They’re somebody’s daughters.”

The cause already gained both local and national attention, via interviews with three Christian radio stations: WRGN, Family Life Network and K-LOVE/Air1, and the partnership of several Christian churches in Pennsylvania, New York and Florida.

After the radio interviews aired, Bound Together was contacted by prison chaplains from Texas, Minnesota and Indianapolis, asking for more information.

“We’re just getting it off the ground this year,” Julie Overholser said. “We’re hoping to expand next year with even more awareness in local churches.”

When often asked why they want to reach out to people who are in prison, the Overholsers’ default response is, “Why not?”

“Ninety-five percent of inmates are eventually released back into our towns and cities,” Julie Overholser said. “Why would we not want to invest in their lives now, while they’re still incarcerated?”

She hopes during Prisoner Awareness Day, people will “resist the urge to judge,” and instead simply pray for the prisoners. Taking it yet a step further, she asks people to continue extending this non-judgmental attitude toward former inmates.

“I want to encourage people who have rental properties or who own businesses to hire these men and women when they are coming out of prison, to give them a second chance, to allow them to have housing,” she said. “Many are stuck in prison longer than they should have to be – even years longer – because they cannot find someone who’s willing to give them housing.”

The Overholsers formed Bound Together about three years ago, when seeking a way to reach out to a friend of theirs in prison. During the 2013 Christmas holiday season, they sent cards, books, WORDpictures (photography overlayed with inspirational sayings and Scripture verses) and a small monetary gift for their commissary accounts to 26 prisoners in NEPA. By the next Christmas, that number grew to 106. Last year, they included more than 200 inmates and they now have a presence in at least 25 local, state and federal prisons throughout 13 different states.

The idea for a National Prisoner Awareness day came out of an abundance of requests from the inmates for calendars, an item that is difficult to get through prison security, due to staples, spiral binding and size. Bound Together created its own publication for this purpose, titled “Wisdom, Discipline and Understanding.” It includes calendar pages, journal sheets, photography and faith-based articles. In the section for September, they designed a page which focuses on prisoner awareness.

This year, they would like to send even more copies of the calendar publication into the prisons, but they can’t do it without the community’s help, as the ministry is funded solely though donations. A gift of $10 through the non-profit organization will purchase one copy for a prisoner.

For information on how to donate or get involved, visit wordpictured.com.

Julie and Jamie Overholser, of South Abington Township started Bound Together in the fall of 2013. The faith-based ministry is named after a portion of the scripture verse, Hebrews 13:3, which says, “Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them.” (King James Version)
http://theabingtonjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/web1_ABJ-Prisoner-Awareness-2.jpgJulie and Jamie Overholser, of South Abington Township started Bound Together in the fall of 2013. The faith-based ministry is named after a portion of the scripture verse, Hebrews 13:3, which says, “Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them.” (King James Version) Elizabeth Burmeister file photo | Abington Journal

South Abington Township couple Jamie and Julie Overholser, founders of the prison ministry Bound Together, are asking people all over the country to join them in acknowledging Sept. 19 as National Prisoner Awareness Day, by driving by area prisons and praying for the inmates within those walls and their family members and friends on the outside.
http://theabingtonjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/web1_ABJ-Prisoner-Awareness-1.jpgSouth Abington Township couple Jamie and Julie Overholser, founders of the prison ministry Bound Together, are asking people all over the country to join them in acknowledging Sept. 19 as National Prisoner Awareness Day, by driving by area prisons and praying for the inmates within those walls and their family members and friends on the outside. Submitted artwork
Community members encouraged to pray for inmates, family members

By Elizabeth Baumeister

ebaumeister@timesleader.com

Where to go

For Prisoner Awareness Day, Monday, Sept. 19, Bound Together is encouraging people to drive by local prisons and pray for the inmates and their families, then post the activity on social media, tagging the faith-based prison ministry’s Facebook page. The following is a list of county, state and federal prisons located in Lackawanna and adjacent counties.

• Carbon County Correctional Facility, 331 Broad St., Nesquehoning

• Lackawanna County Prison, 1371 N. Washington Ave., Scranton

• Luzerne County Correctional Facility, 99 Water St., Wilkes-Barre

• Monroe County Correctional Facility, 4250 Manor Drive, Stroudsburg

• Pike County Correctional Facility, 175 Pike County Blvd., Hawley

• SCI Dallas, 1000 Follies Road, Dallas

• SCI Retreat, 660 State Route 11, Hunlock Creek

• SCI Waymart, 100 US-6, Waymart

• Susquehanna County Correctional Facility, 137 Ellsworth Drive, Montrose

• USP Canaan, 3057 Easton Turnpike, Waymart

• Wayne County Correctional Facility, 44 Mid-Wayne Drive, Honesdale

• Wyoming County Correctional Facility, 10 Stark St., Tunkhannock

Reach Elizabeth Baumeister at 570-704-3943 or on Twitter @AbingtonJournal.

Reach Elizabeth Baumeister at 570-704-3943 or on Twitter @AbingtonJournal.

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