Among the many moments children miss out on when mothers and grandmothers land in prison is the opportunity to cuddle together for a bedtime story. A program at the Utah State Prison that relies on volunteers offers these families the next best thing: audio recordings of women reading stories and singing songs for their children.
Once a month on a Sunday evening, female inmates gather in the visiting room at the Timpanogos Women's Correctional Facility, where volunteers set them up with storybooks and recorders. Some women choose to sing songs rather than read. The recordings are reviewed and then mailed to the inmates' children. The children get to hear the voices of their loved ones, while inmates get a chance to focus on and connect with their children.
Brooke Plowthow, then a freshman at Brigham Young University, came up with the idea for the program about a dozen years ago as a service project for her LDS Young Women's group. She sought support from United Way of Utah County and the Ashton Family Foundation, which provided a $100,000 seed grant to cover costs. Today, the program is still going strong, overseen by Volunteer Coordinator Rose Nielsen.
Read a story about the program by Jennifer Dobner of The Salt Lake Tribune here.