ORGANIZATIONAL SPOTLIGHT: ASSISTING FAMILIES OF INMATES, INC.

An organization that I'm particularly proud to introduce you to is that of Assisting Families of Inmates (http://www.afoi.org). They are a terrific group that supports families of the incarcerated. According to

AFOI's website:

"The AFOI mission is to prevent the breakdown of relationships among inmates and their families by providing regular, meaningful visitation support and education services. Our services help prepare families for a successful transition when the inmate is released from prison. AFOI is one of only a handful of such programs to provide these services in Virginia and across the United States."

These services are very broad in spectrum and focus not only upon the families of prisoners, but upon the prisoners themselves, too. According to their website AFOI provides the following services:

~Regular visiting-day transportation on Saturdays to 30 Virginia prisons, correctional centers, correctional units, and work centers.

~A children's visitation program.

~A hot meal when buses return at the end of the visiting day which is coordinated by our dedicated volunteers.

~Individual and group services that help families cope with the emotional and survival issues associated with having an incarcerated loved one.

~Assistance to families and inmates with resource referrals to other agencies that aid with education, legal issues, housing, employment, childcare, etc.

~Information on prison rules and visiting policies and procedures.

~The Milk and Cookies (MAC) Children's Program in Blackwell, Swansboro, Bellemeade, Oak Grove, Summer Hill, Ruffin Road, and Woodville Elementary Schools.
~Other collaborative, community efforts including All God's Children Summer Camp through the Virginia Conference of the United Methodist Church.

~Many opportunities for community involvement through volunteering.

To put these services into perspective, in the 2007-2008 year "AFOI provided over 3,200 visits to Virginia correctional facilities." The true magnitude of these visits lies in the fact that "AFOI is the only means by which they (families of prisoners) can maintain regular contact with their incarcerated relatives and loved ones." AFOI provides a literal lifeline for these prisoners and their families.

These visitation services are provided through a cost of $6 per each adult and $1 per each child with a maximum rate of $8 per adult with 2 or more children, a very economical cost for such a vital service.
Assisting Families of Inmates can be contacted as follows:

AFOI
1 North 5th Street, Suite 400
Richmond, VA 23219
(804)643-2401
(804)643-2464 FAX
http://www.afoi.org
family@afoi.org