The Washington Times-Herald

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March 28, 2013

A place for hope

WASHINGTON — The Stepping Stones ministry has been helping the babies of incarcerated mothers for three years now and are holding a fundraiser to further help more.

The ministry is holding a chicken barbecue fundraiser at the Vernon Graber farm and home, 410 S. West Street, in Odon this Saturday to raise money for a new project, a home for recently released mothers to reunite with their children.

"We're just making a place for them here," Director Joe Knepp said.

The fundraiser will be from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and will consist of grilled chicken, baked beans and potato salad. The Paulus chip wagon will also be there, and baked items are also available. Delivery and pickup will also be available for a freewill donation.

The ministry houses currently 19 babies born of incarcerated mothers at Indianapolis Women's Prison. Many times, Knepp said, those babies are taken in by family members or the mothers are in a special program in the prison to raise their children.

But in many instances, there is no one on the outside to help raise the babies. Many families inside and outside the Amish and Mennonite community in Daviess County have volunteered to help, Knepp said.

"There is a need out there," Knepp said.

In all the cases, the family raises the baby out of their own expense, not taking financial assistance. The child does receive medical care from the state.

Every month, the babies and foster parents are taken to Indianapolis so their birth mother can see the child and talk with the foster parents. Knepp said some of the funds from the fundraiser will help the expense of taking the parents and children up to the prison.

This year, Stepping Stones has started to renovate a house in Odon that will help the transition of recently released mothers and their children.

The house is voluntary and temporary, Knepp said, and it gives women a chance to be closer with their children until the time when both are legally reunited.

The house is about 80 percent completed and the fundraiser will help finish the home, Knepp said.

To order food for Saturday¹s fundraiser, call 636-7922, 787-1306 or 636-4736.

For more information on the program or how to help, contact 486-9668 or 899-1425.

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