By Felicia A. Petro
Allied News Senior Reporter
GROVE CITY —
A new office is creating new opportunities in Grove City for a ministry to women being freed from prison.
“I’m excited,” said Carol Mitchell, founder of Reaching Up & Reaching Out.
In September, RU&RO moved into the Olde Town Grove City complex, 118 S. Center St., which was celebrated with a ribbon cutting on Oct. 24. The non-profit had spent the last three years in an office space on South Broad Street.
Four years ago, Mitchell was providing a weekly Celebrate Recovery program to women in the Mercer County Jail. After a year, she realized the women still needed help after being released from prison and RU&RO was born.
The ministry helps women transition into a normal life by providing anything from shelter to transportation to clothing to life coaching, as well as continued support with Celebrate Recovery – which is Christian program with its own 12 steps.
At the open house, RU&RO set up information tables along with Christian Counseling Associates, Grove City Community Food Pantry and Christian Assistance Network.
“We met Carol and realized that with the services she offers, a lot of her folks need biblical counseling,” said Crystal McFadden, counselor with CCA, which recently forged a new relationship with RU&RO.
Although CCA has its main office in Pittsburgh, it has numerous satellite locations, including one at Community Fellowship Church in Grove City.
“(Mitchell’s) on the ground level doing work only a few people know how to do,” McFadden said. “We’re excited to see how God is leading us to benefit each other.”
CAN has been partnering with RU&RO since its inception, said Gary Smith, board president. It provides crisis assistance for needs such as utility bills, rent and mortgage payments, medical expenses and vehicle repairs.
“Where would these women be without readjusting in community life with a program like (RU&RO),” Smith said of those leaving jail.
Thrifty Threads, the thrift shop that funds the food pantry, has donated clothes to the women for job interviews as well as dinnerware, pots and pans for their apartments, said Traci Turner, director.
“People who want to start new are shunned,” she said. RU&RO “not only gives them an opportunity for a changed life but a new life with more choices than what they had before.”
RU&RO also wants to begin a Celebrate Recovery for incarcerated men, and is hoping a man will step forward to lead that.
In three years, RU&RO has obtained two apartments in Mercer for qualified people leaving jail and a van for transportation. The ministry also has three storage units to receive donations of furniture and appliances.
It has a strict, optional 90- to 180-day post-jail program to help individuals become more independent, addiction-free and dependent on teachings of Jesus Christ through Celebrate Recovery, church involvement and accountability.
When women are released from jail, “They either have nowhere to go, have a place to go but need support or only want us to write and check up on them,” Mitchell said.
RU&RO has ministered to 150 women in jail and 40 women leaving jail, she noted. Although it reaches women with its Celebrate Recovery program in prison, it will help anyone in transition or crisis.
In its short time at its new office, RU&RO has helped people off the street, including “two women who were totally homeless,” Mitchell said.
“It’s time to get out of the church and go where the hurting people are,” she said.
Reaching Up & Reaching Out can be reached at 724-264-4112; Christian Counseling Associates at 724-396-1510; Christian Assistance Network at 724-992-3193; and Grove City Community Food Pantry at 724-458-5208.