About B.I.R.D. Ministries
For over 12 years Joe and Linda Bird served as foster parents opening their hearts and home to care for more than 200 children. With a desire to impact not only the children, but their parents, they established Beginning In the Right Direction, B.I.R.D. Ministries in July 2000.
Armed with the faith and belief that all things are possible with God, they are helping women who have been in prison rebuild their lives and overcome the cycle of drugs poverty and violence that has devastated their lives and families. Through a network of resources- from social services agencies to faith-based ministries and churches they are able to provide the women and their families with the support and services they so desperately need.
B.I.R.D. Ministries was established in July of 2000, by Joe and Linda Bird and incorporated in October 2004. In June of 2001 B.I.R.D. Ministries went into Lancaster County Prison to teach one eight week parenting class for the women housed in the 2-5 block. Since then a single parenting class has evolved into a comprehensive pre-release program and After Care ministry.
Women are released from prison every week with high hopes and dreams for their life, only to later return to prison feeling defeated and worthless. B.I.R.D. Ministries saw this and knew it needed to expand the ministry to include after care support. In 2003, B.I.R.D. Ministries began developing After Care services that work closely with a network of community and faith-based organizations to provide a collaboration of service and resources for the women. Through this network of service providers, clients and their families are connected to the services and support they need to move toward stability and self-sufficiency. Currently, clients are referred to a range of services that include housing assistance, employment counseling, transportation, continuing education drug and alcohol treatment and counseling. Even though current capacity and structure are limited, work continues to increase capacity and the number of service providers in the network.
The primary goal of Aftercare is to surround each woman with the support, encouragement and service needed to return successfully and safely back into her community and family. As an emerging ministry, B.I.R.D. Ministries actively pursues opportunities to better serve its clients, increase community education and awareness, and develop effective Aftercare support and services.
In June 2007, B.I.R.D. Ministries opened The House of Ruth, a residential program for women released from prison. The House of Ruth offers the women a safe, structured Christ-centered environment to love, nurture and encourage them. The home structure provides a daily routine that includes normal domestic chores and activities designed to minister to the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of the residents. A resident House Manager provides onsite supervision and accountability.
In July 2010, B.I.R.D. Ministries opened another house next door to the House of Ruth. This house serves as the next step for the residents currently at the House of Ruth. Residents who are close to their discharge date can now move next door to grow in the personal accountability and responsibility that comes with employment and increased independence. A House Manager helps to oversee the women's schedules and their progress.
Light on a Hill a Social Enterprise of B.I.R.D. Ministries is expected to open in October 2012. Light on a Hill will be operated by House of Ruth residents where they will produce, package, market, and sell a line of hand-poured soy and specialty massage oil candles. Light on a Hill will offer a powerful opportunity for residents and graduates to "become a voice in the marketplace" and the larger community. Light on a Hill will provide House of Ruth residents paid full and part-time vocational training and employment experience at many levels of business as well as economic independence through saving opportunities. The vision for Light on a Hill is to be a safe, creative, profitable and sustainable workplace.
B.I.R.D. Ministries continues to stand in the gap as we look to the future - expressing Christ's love as we embrace the women with unconditional love and acceptance. We are committed to the their stability and well-being through all stages of their incarceration and transition back into their families and communities. God is faithful and the ministry continues to grow to better serve the women and their families.
- Christ led Ministry: The love and reconciling ministry of Jesus Christ demonstrated in our ministry to others.
- Dignity and Worth: All persons are created in the image of God and are endowed with dignity, worth and purpose.
- Accountability and Honesty: Integrity and honesty of character dedicated to excellence and openness to counsel and correction.
- Professional Excellence: Spiritual and professional growth that demonstrates obedience, respect, perseverance and servant leadership.
- Stewardship: Effective and creative use of all resources.
As an expression of Christ's love, we provide women who have been in prison hope, healing and reconciliation with God, family and community by:
- Preparing the women for re-entry through Pre-Release life skills education and support;
- Promoting individual responsibility and accountability through After Care Support;
- Preventing homelessness through the House of Ruth program;
- Providing vocational training and employment through our social enterprise Light on a Hill; and
- Partnering collaboratively with community resources to provide needed services and support.
Beginning In the Right Direction, B.I.R.D. Ministries is a Christ centered ministry committed to seeing that all women who have been in prison receive hope, healing, support and guidance to restore them to wholeness and reconcile them to their families and communities to live in harmony with God, self, and others.