Jail Ministry, The Gap Pack Project

Jail Ministry, The Gap Pack Project

Crowdfunding Completed: February 21, 2017

Amount Funded: $605

Project Owner: Hope Unitarian Church

Short Description of Project

A Gap Pack is intended for individuals just released from the Tulsa jail by providing basic essentials for their first 24 hours after release.

How was this project connected to UU?

How does this project claim Unitarian Universalism?

We are putting our faith into action by reaching out to help newly released inmates at a time when they are desperate and vulnerable.  These are people who are often marginalized by society and have few economic resources.  They may be released in the middle of the night when no buses are running and shelters are closed  and may have no one to turn to.

This project has strong ties to these three Unitarian Universalist principles:
• The inherent worth and dignity of every person.
• Justice, equality and compassion in human relations.
• Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

How is your project claimed by Unitarian Universalism?

Hope Unitarian Church is called to support all in need. Our theological thread of Universalism means all can be saved from unnecessary suffering. We work to better our city and citizens through countless ways, both charitable and social justice activism.  Our state has the highest rate of female incarceration in the world, an appalling marker of pain. These Gap Packs alleviate unnecessary sorrow when people are released from jail without resources.

About Hope Unitarian Church:

Hope Unitarian Church was founded in 1968. It is surrounded by residential neighborhoods in a natural urban forest on the highest point in northeast Oklahoma’s Tulsa County.

Since August 2013, under the guidance of our called Minister, Rev. Cathey Edwards, Hope Church is experiencing growth by attracting, welcoming and integrating young families to the congregational community.

Hope Church is grounded in making the world a better place. It is accredited as a Green Sanctuary church, by the Unitarian Universalist Association, evidence of our belief that the environment is a social justice issue. Additionally, the church gives away every plate collection to a local non-profit selected by the Outreach Committee. Whatever funds come in go out. The church also prepares a complete dinner for over 100 people each month, and serves it  at the Tulsa Day Center for the Homeless. It serves as a Tulsa Public School Partner in Education, supporting MacArthur Elementary school. The Hope Outreach Committee’s budget is spent for the current fiscal year: however its determination to continue to provide material and financial support to the Gap Pack project, now and in the future, has not.

In the photo to the right, Hope members prepare a meal to serve at the Day Center for the Homeless while in the background is another Outreach Project, the Star Tree, supporting families at Tulsa's Lindsey House, an agency with long-term shelter and supportive services for single women with children.

Full Description of Project

The Gap Pack:

Can you imagine being released from the Tulsa jail at 2:00 am in the morning? No bus service runs in the middle of the night. The streets are deserted. No food is available. A Gap Pack is intended to help individuals just released from David L. Moss Correctional Facility (Tulsa County jail) in Tulsa, Oklahoma by providing basic essentials for their first 24 hours after release. It is a zip lock bag containing bottled water, snacks, socks, a thermal blanket, condoms, tampons, a map of downtown Tulsa, a notebook with a poem, pen and resources list. The packs are left on a shelf at the jail for inmates to take, if needed, as they are released.

Individuals are released from the jail at all hours of day and night. They are released in all types of weather and often with no resources, no transportation, no one to call or places to go. Sometimes they do not even have a pair of shoes to wear.  Shelters may be closed or full.   At times people re-offend just to have a safe place to go, or are themselves victimized when they are at their most vulnerable. For some newly released inmates people the Gap Pack is a survival pack for the first 24 hours out of jail.

In the spring of 2016 Hope Unitarian Church answers the call to partner with other organizations and churches after a successful pilot Gap Pack Program in Tulsa, OK. The Criminal Justice Outreach Committee at All Souls Unitarian Church initiated this work.   Items chosen for the Gap Packs were selected based on focus groups conducted with inmates at the jail.  It is estimated that 250 packs will be needed each month to continue the program.

Hope Unitarian Church:

Hope Unitarian Church will be supplying all the necessary items for 250 Gap Packs in March, 2017. This will cost $500.00.  We are raising the funds through Faithify in a 30-day time limited posting.  Any additional funds raised will be used for our ongoing support of the Gap Packs.

Additional Project Partners:

• All Souls Community Resource Bank
• All Souls Young Adult Program
• Planned Parenthood
• Fellowship Congregational Church
• B’Nai Emunah Synagogue
• Women in Recovery

Project Endorsements:

"These packs are humanizing and make a real difference beyond the tangible benefits." - Laurel (former inmate)

"It's a survival bag. You leave all your old bags and trash here that you brought in with you and pick up a new bag." - Sharon (Gap Pack recipient)

"The Tulsa County Sheriff's Office is grateful to All Souls Unitarian Church for providing this service. Often times when people are released from David L Moss, they have nothing. Gap Packs provide them with important essentials, such as food, clean socks, hygiene products and bus tokens, These supplies allow them to be better prepared when they leave the jail." - Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office

"I have taught classes in our jail and worked with those incarcerated trying to restart their lives. Making reentry successful not harder is critical to interrupting recidivism and failure." -Rev. Cathey Edwards, Hope Unitarian Church