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Western Pennsylvania has a strong tradition of neighborhood, personal and community commitment. Our pride in pulling together goes far beyond supporting our deep-rooted sports teams. 90.5 WESA Celebrates People Making a Difference honors the individuals that are making a difference in people's lives on the ground level and reminding us we are all truly a part of each other's lives.This special series, supported by UPMC, will highlight, honor and celebrate Western Pennsylvanians who are unsung heroes daring to make a difference to others in our community.00000176-e6f7-dce8-adff-f6f770c8000000000176-e6f7-dce8-adff-f6f770ca000000000176-e6f7-dce8-adff-f6f770cc000090.5 WESA PA listening area counties:Allegheny, Beaver, Washington, Westmoreland, Butler, Armstrong, Cambria, Somerset, Bedford, Fayette, Indiana00000176-e6f7-dce8-adff-f6f770cd0000This project is made possible by a generous contribution from UPMC.

Finding Passion Through The Pain Of Incarceration

Mark Nootbaar
90.5 FM WESA

Faith Denson’s son was sentenced to prison in 2009. That moment changed her life.

She decided to launch an all-volunteer ministry to help keep inmates in contact with their children. 

“Your pain becomes your passion,” she said. “You can’t take away all their pain, but you can help.”

Like most state prisoners, Denson’s son was sent to a facility in another part of the state. The distance made it all but impossible for him to see his children.

From that divide came “Children Touched by Incarceration,” now run out of North Way Christian Community Church's East End Campus. The program helps children write letters and send cards to the adults in their lives who are serving time in state penitentiaries.

“We talk about the positive,” Denson said. “Just let them know they are loved.” 

Most parents write back, she said, keeping the lines of communications open. She also has the children write cards and letters to inmates who don’t have any loved ones to keep them in touch with the community.

Denson said she hopes to grow the program beyond letter writing, snacks and arts and crafts to full-scale field trips and birthday parties. They're the sort of things other children might take for granted, she said, but that mean the world to children of struggling, single parents.

Denson said she'd also like to offer professionally trained volunteers to help children deal with stress and related emotional issues like "post traumatic stress disorder. They’re dealing with isolation. They’re dealing with depression,” she said.

Her dream is unfolding gradually, she said.

“My job is to find these families and nurture them, bring them in (and) encourage them," Denson said.

Folks in need or interested in volunteering can email Denson here.