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Support when it’s needed

Folks who have a loved one who is incarcerated are suffering in a way few others can understand and need some special attention.

As of 2013, there were more than 2.2 million adults incarcerated in the United States, to say nothing of the juvenile detention population. Incarceration significantly affects not only the individual incarcerated but also that person’s family.

In some ways, the effect is similar to death. The loved one may still be alive but can’t attend birthday parties, weddings or other family functions; can’t go and do fun activities; can’t help around the house; can’t contribute to the household’s financial well-being.

Compounding those effects is the shame, stigma or embarrassment some family members might feel about saying their loved one is incarcerated. For a mother, this can be especially hard.

Fortunately, Denise Owens, founder of God’s Got This: Mothers with Children Behind Bars Ministry, knows this all too well. Her son was arrested almost five years ago, and she struggled with the experience and did not know where to turn for support. When she went looking for support, she didn’t find a whole lot of resources out there.

Fortunately, she did happen upon one resource that helped her. She found a copy of a book by Carol Kent, “When I Lay My Isaac Down,” which details the experience Kent went through when her son was arrested and sentenced to life.

After coming to terms with her situation, Owens was motivated to help provide that support that she didn’t have when her son was first arrested.

“If I could touch just one mother’s heart and let her know that she’s not alone, and that there is still hope — even at the end of the road, and it’s going to be a long, hard road — I will have done what this ministry was made for,” Owens said.

Though the ministry is meant to focus on mothers with incarcerated children, Owens said any family member or friend struggling with any situation, like perhaps a terminal illness, is welcome.

Owens has found a way to turn a situation that affected her in a negative way into something that can be positive for those who find support when they need it — and that is a very good thing.