We all deserve second chances. That is the belief of Jenice Green, the co-founder of Love Beyond Bars.
She, along with her husband Barry Green, created the organization in 2016 after discovering there were not enough resources available to families impacted by the incarceration of loved ones.
They saw these families were not only suffering from a lack of financial support, but emotional support as well; many people on whom they had depended were now neglecting them and actually shaming them for their circumstances.
The Greens were able to empathize with many of these families, because they, too, faced difficult times when Barry was incarcerated. Just three months into their marriage, their lives were uprooted when he received his conviction.
During this time, Jenice underwent a major surgery that left her out of work for an extended period of time. This unexpected incident caused her to lose her job. The lack of financial support eventually led her and her daughter into homelessness.
It was during this hardship that the Greens recognized they did not want another family to experience the type of pain that they were facing. From that moment on, they vowed to be the support system to others that they were deprived of having.
Love Beyond Bars aims for the positive reunification of families, keeping an emphasis on unity and love. The organization is built on the concept that the family as a whole suffers from incarceration–not just the inmate.
“It’s important to put emphasis on the inmate, but many people forget about the families,” said Jenice. “We, as their family members, are doing time as well.”
The Greens are also aware that children of the inmates are heavily affected by incarceration. They sometimes experience judgment, bullying, and even depression from their circumstances. To provide them with encouragement, the organization creates uplifting activities and exercises for the children. This gives the children an opportunity to not only feel relief from their troubles, but to also form bonds with other children experiencing similar hardships.
In December 2016, Love Beyond Bars was able to partner with the Angel Tree Christmas Prison Fellowship. With this partnership, they gave Christmas gifts to children with incarcerated parents, reassuring them that they have not only parents, but a whole community who cares for them.
Love Beyond Bars is continuing to grow as an organization through their outreach in South Carolina, expanding their reach to cities such as Dylan, Florence, Bennettsville, and Columbia.
On Saturday, July 29, the organization hosted their Empowered to Conquer Family Expo at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. Jenice considers this the organization’s largest and most rewarding event yet.
The event featured financial advisers, children’s activities, career consulting, uplifting speakers, and a plethora of local vendors.
As Jenice and her staff organized the expo, they aimed to make it as resourceful as possible, so that each family could feel empowered. “I want them to leave knowing that whatever their past is, they can conquer it,” she explained.
In the next few years, the Greens hope Love Beyond Bars will expand outside of South Carolina to reach as many families in need as possible.
To donate to Love Beyond Bars, click here.