With winter on the way, Loan Tran of Lacey, Washington, sets out to buy winter clothing and food for the homeless in her area. After purchasing $1,000 in coats, snacks and other items, she decides instead to donate all that she purchased to The Matthew House, a hospitality home for women and children with relatives and friends incarcerated in Washington.
When Loan delivers the clothes and food, she gets a tour of the facility. With only three apartments, the accommodations are modest and sometimes crowded. But without The Matthew House many families would not be able to visit a husband, father or boyfriend in prisons far from home.
The Matthew House's website explains the importance of supporting families while a member is incarcerated. "When a man is convicted of a crime and sentenced to prison, society often breathes a sigh of relief and says 'good riddance.' Left behind, though, are the wives and children. They are left to face increased responsibilities on reduced incomes. They are often abandoned by family for being married to a prisoner. Children are relentlessly teased at school for having a dad in prison. These are the lonely, forgotten lives in the criminal justice system."
To help families through this time, The Matthew House provides shelter, food, clothing, transportation, childcare and emotional support for its residents. Loan's donations will support the food pantry and clothing closet at The Matthew House. "I felt very uplifted after the experience—very energized—and wanted to do more," Loan says.