Local Christian Group Plans Transitional Housing For Inmates

by Kelli Cheatham

SOUTH BEND — Imagine being sent to jail for committing a crime, then getting released back into the same environment that got you in trouble in the first place. That's the reality for many people who are incarcerated. Now a local Christian group wants to provide transitional housing for female inmates after they're released.

Beauty to Ashes

The program is called Beauty for Ashes. The idea is to help give the inmates a new beginning and a place where they can be taught structure and boundaries.
You wouldn't expect to hear singing and clapping at a jail — a place where criminals are punished for breaking the law.

But four days a week a handful of inmates go to church inside the St. Joseph County Jail. Ministers from South Bend's Potter's House of Deliverance lead them in song and worship.

"A lot of these women have high goals," one inmate told WSBT. "They have high hopes and dreams. They want to become something."

"I guess 49 percent of the women that come here are homeless," explained Beauty for Ashes founder Rachele Benn. "So they leave homeless. So when they're pushed back out into society they're left to go back where they started — back to their prostitution, back to those places that helped bring them here to begin with."

That's why Rachele Benn wants to open Beauty for Ashes — a transitional home for women who are trying to break the gripping cycle of drugs, bad decisions and the fear that they're not good enough for anyone.

"What I learned from it is to receive God with open arms and He loves me, you know?" explained one inmate. "I think that's the biggest fear, that the Lord looks down on us."
For former inmates who want to live in the transitional housing, there are strict policies they have to follow. For example, the women have to begin their spiritual journey while they're in jail and show spiritual growth.

They also have to fill out an application and go through an interview process. But there are also a lot of rules while they're living at the home: no drugs or alcohol, and they have to sign in and out with exactly where they're going to be. It's designed to show them structure and boundaries.

The plans for Beauty for Ashes are in place, but organizers are missing a crucial part to complete the project.

"We need a home," said Rachele Benn. "I believe there is somebody out there who can provide this home for these women and offer them hope and a second chance."
If you're interested in giving donations or helping with Beauty for Ashes, the organizers want you to contact them.

To reach Rachele Benn, Beauty for Ashes Founder: (574) 536-7444.
You can also write:

The Potter's House of Deliverance
120 Calendar St. B210
South Bend, IN 46614

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