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Mary's Story

Mary and her family reunited at Family Reconcilition Center on Josh's release day
Mary and her family on Josh's release day

The first time we met Mary, it was a beautiful, mild Saturday in September of 2018. She was standing in our front yard . . . peeking into our living room window.

Mary knew she looked silly, but when you have small children, you tend to be cautious.

“Well, here are these people saying, 'You can come stay here and it doesn’t cost anything!' And I'm thinking, 'Okay, is this too good to be true?!” she laughs, reflecting on that first visit. She'd brought her 7-year-old granddaughter and 4-year-old grandson to see their dad, her stepson Josh, at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution.

"I just wanted to be careful, especially with the children," Mary says, "that I was taking them someplace safe, good, and healthy." And while Mary said she got a good feeling while talking to our House Managers over the phone, she still had to see it to believe it—because up to that point, nothing in the prison process had been 'too good to be true.'

“We live in Knoxville. Because of schedules, we normally visited on Sundays. This involved leaving very early, driving three hours, going through the [prison] check-in process, visiting most of the day, then a three-hour drive back and getting home late. And the kids needed to be at school the next morning,” Mary recalls. “Anyone with young children can tell you: that is a hard day for all."

But staying for the weekend was just too expensive. "I would have loved to come on Saturday afternoon or evening, but with Nashville hotel costs, that was not an option.”

"Then, we found Family Reconciliation,” she says. “What a gift from God and a blessing it was.”

Since 1984, Family Reconciliation has been a critical resource for families visiting loved ones in prison. And 2019, our 35th year, has been a truly banner one for our community. We’ve booked 103 guests for 245 reservations this year. All told, those reservations total 556 room nights in 2019.

In April, we also closed on our property and began capital improvements. Since then, we’ve continued to update our digital infrastructure, redecorate our bedrooms and common areas with new furniture and amenities, and build out a robust volunteer program.


In other words, we’re moving forward—and the future looks bright.

As we look to that future, we want to ensure that we’ll be here for another 35 years and beyond. And that means we need your help.

Your support matters:

  • $100 provides a 2-night stay for 2 inmates’ families  

  • $250 provides a 2-night stay for 5 inmates’ families

  • $500 provides a 2-night stay for 10 inmates’ families


Gifts can be made via check by returning the enclosed donation envelope, or via credit or debit card on our website,

Thank you for giving generously. Your gift matters to families like Mary’s and so many others. As Mary put it, “It’s not just a house. It’s a home, a place of love and acceptance.”


Your gift makes this possible.



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