Throughout the Goshen area there are many people doing good things to help others. One place those good deeds are occurring is on Sixth Street.

That’s where the Walnut Hill Mennonite Church operates a half-way house for women who have finished their time in jail and are attempting to re-enter society in a productive way.

This type of local, caring service is very much needed to interrupt the cycle of repeating offenders. The judicial system is a cold institution by design. Defendants are prosecuted, convicted and sent to jail in an efficient, methodical manner. Because of the lack of public interest and unwillingness to pay for job-training and life-skills courses for criminals, there is little in the way of rehabilitation services for inmates here and nationwide. That means often offenders re-enter society on their own. Many times that means the offenders go back to the same destructive lifestyle they led before being jailed.

To break that cycle someone must step in and offer an alternative way to live. That’s what the Walnut Hill Graceful Living program does. Women who have left the jail system are given a safe, supervised place to live. If they have children, the children also move in to the half-way house. It is a good idea to reunite recently released women with their children in a supervised environment because children are victimized by the fallout from mom’s jail term. Having a caring person on hand to help during times of family stress following a woman’s release from jail is a great asset to troubled families.

The members of Walnut Hill Mennonite Church and the volunteers who help at Graceful Living are showing our community how ordinary people can improve the lives of others by simply caring. The best way we can think of showing appreciation for their service is by helping them. The Graceful Living staff is in need of many things, including more volunteers. We suggest that anyone who wants to help improve the lives of others consider helping out at Graceful Living. We think the community will be better for such efforts, and so will those who volunteer.

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