Who Does Ministry of Hope Serve?

The Ministry of Hope serves women - women just like the women you work with, the women who live in your community, the women you may know through church or civic organizations. The women at SCCW are mothers, daughters, sisters, family, and community members. Each has unique talents, abilities, personalities, and challenges. They come from all over the state of North Carolina.

“The chapel was the one place I could go to cry, and sometimes I just need to cry a lot.”

All of the women at SCCW are separated from their family, friends, and home. Some are struggling with addiction. Ninety percent are survivors of trauma and abuse. Many of the women at SCCW will not receive either visits or mail during their incarceration.

What do Chaplains Do?

The chaplains conduct religious services in the SCCW chapel, coordinate a large number of volunteers who contribute to different faith programs, and provide pastoral care and spiritual guidance to inmates of all faiths at the prison. Their guidance and leadership are crucial as they assist those who are searching for a sense of hope and real-world self-care tools to manage life's challenges with discernment and spiritual maturity.

“The chaplain was able to see and hear what I did not want to. Listening to her may have saved my life.”


Among the most important roles of the chaplains is that of compassionate listener. Everybody needs someone to talk to, someone who will not judge, someone who will see them anew, who will offer a positive re-direction. Chaplains provide “soul work” in the moment, as needed. Perhaps in being present - really present - to another they may lay the foundation for a bridge that will lead towards transformation, reconciliation, and hope. Most importantly, chaplains provide pastoral care and spiritual guidance to women in prison.

Most incarcerated women have suffered some sort of abuse (physical, mental, and/or sexual) and many have turned to drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism. Many women say that coming to prison saved their lives or that "God needed to sit me down for a while." For those who are motivated to live a different kind of life, their time in prison becomes a season of self- reflection and a search for inner healing. The chaplain is a guide and companion on this journey. This kind of inner, spiritual work is demanding under the best of circumstances but even more difficult in a prison setting under crowded living conditions, round the clock observation by correctional officers, and a desire to hide one’s vulnerabilities and weaknesses.

“Going to prison and being a mother is so difficult. Talking to the chaplains helped. With their help, I left prison with plans to become a better mom.”

In the challenging conditions of prison, chaplains provide a safe space in a quiet, peaceful chapel where the women are able to take off all the masks they wear for safety and sanity and to find acceptance in all their beauty, vulnerability, fear, confusion, strength, and questioning. Chaplains work to help women find new, positive answers within their own values, beliefs, and traditions.

At SCCW all of the women are within 5 years of release or parole so they are not simply slogging through their prison sentence but actively planning for life on the outside. Many of the women are aware that if they do not use their prison time to examine the root issues behind their addictions, they will go back to their old behaviors and end up back in prison. Chaplains help women prepare to re-enter the outside world as healthier people more able to contribute to their communities and families.

What Else Do Chaplains Do?

“Both Chaplains helped me become comfortable with my very own spiritual journey.”

All of the women at SCCW are separated from their family, friends, and home. Some are struggling with addiction. Ninety percent are survivors of trauma and abuse. Many of the women at SCCW will not receive either visits or mail during their incarceration.

Our Chaplains:

• Coordinate religious services for all faith groups approved by the Dept of Public Safety
• Recruit and supervise volunteers who lead religious groups
• Collaborate with mental health, substance abuse and programs staff
•Minister to members of the staff in times of crisis
• Coordinate emergency leave passes for inmates who have had a death in their immediate family
• Allow inmates to make phone calls in times of crisis or family member’s medical emergency
• Arrange weddings, baptisms, special visits with clergy or family members
• Visit inmates in the hospital
• Supervise the SCCW dance team “Kingdom Bound”
• Coordinate the “Read Me a Story” program
• Coordinate the Moms and Teens Retreats and the Mother/Child Retreats
• Hear Confessions
• Take inmates out into the community to share their stories
• Plan and conduct special worship services in the chapel
• Lead various kinds of groups (grief, support, inner healing)
• Pray with inmates any time

What is Transitional Mentoring?

Ministry of Hope’s Transitional Mentoring program provides mental, emotional, physical and spiritual assistance to highly motivated women both during their incarceration and as they transition back into society, thus empowering them to make positive changes in their lives and to achieve self-sufficiency.

Ministry of Hope trains volunteers to work with Women in Transition (clients) as they prepare to reenter society. The role of the mentor is to provide support and be a positive role model in the clients’ lives. Transitional Mentors meet face-to-face with clients in the prison, communicate by mail, and use “Transitional Passes” set up specifically for putting the Transition Plan into action. Ideally, the role model relationship begins two years prior to release and continues post-release for at least one year.

In some cases, the mentors will offer practical support: helping participants set goals, cope with stress or budget their money. A mentor might pass along leads on jobs or housing or offer tips on how to dress for an interview. She might help with dealing with everyday challenges in life, like figuring out the best way to commute to work.

The essential role for a mentor is as a role model. Over time, the incarcerated women open up and feel comfortable in discussions during mentoring meetings and other interactions with their mentors. Mentors work thoughtfully to build the relationship and develop trust and maintain that trust over time to help women transition back into society.




QUICK FAQs about SCCW and the women we serve:

• The state of North Carolina will not fund a chaplain position at SCCW.

• 85% of women in prison have committed drug-related crimes.

• 75% of women in prison are mothers.

• A majority of women in prison have suffered some form of abuse: physical, emotional, sexual.

• SCCW is a minimum security correctional facility and the only women’s unit in Western North Carolina.

• The chaplains at SCCW provide pastoral care and spiritual guidance to an average of 140 women ach month.

• The chaplains  at SCCW coordinate volunteers for 60 religious programs per month.

• In addition, the chaplains provide pastoral care and spiritualguidance to the staff of SCCW.