In 2016, the Lord called Bethany Davis and Jennifer Smith to open a new ministry called Cornerstone Transition Home, a faith-based home for women paroling from prison. These two women came from different backgrounds but shared a common bond in the Lord and a love for the inmate population.
Meet Bethany: While working as a Literacy Specialist at the Jackson County School District, Bethany was also serving as a volunteer in the prison as a Certified Religious Assistant (CRA). Once God miraculously confirmed that He was calling her away from her teaching career and towards full time ministry, she resigned her position as an educator at the completion of her 18th year. Through the support of her husband, she stepped out on faith and trusted that God would equip her to minister to women in need of a fresh opportunity. She and her husband recently celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary. Bethany is a mom to two adult children and NiNi to her three grandsons. She continues to volunteer for the McPherson Women’s Prison.
Meet Jennifer: Jennifer’s youth was filled with addiction and violence, resulting in an 11 ½ year sentence in the Arkansas Department of Corrections. While in prison, she heard the truth of the gospel and surrendered her life to follow Christ. While incarcerated, her aim was to allow God to use her to help set others free. Upon her release, God gave Jennifer many opportunities to serve others. She eventually became the Interim Chaplain in McPherson, the same prison where the majority of her incarceration was spent. She still volunteers at McPherson. Jennifer is a “fur” mom to her four dogs.
The birth of a ministry: In February of 2016, these two women sat down at Bethany’s kitchen table with an Arkansas Community Corrections (ACC) application packet in front of them. By faith they asked the Lord to guide them. A Board of Directors was formed, fundraising began, a 7,000 square foot home was financed, an application was mailed, and the ACC license was granted. On December 12, 2016, Cornerstone’s first three ladies walked through the front doors of their fully furnished home. Since that time, more than 250 women have called Cornerstone their home.
Once women are approved for parole and released, they are picked up at the prison by Cornerstone staff and arrive with nothing more than a brown paper bag of release items and documents. They are taken to Cornerstone where basic needs are met. Residents live onsite with 24/7 staff supervision. Each lady receives a $20 gift card to Walmart along with a trip to Rebecca’s House of Hope, our donation hub, to receive a wardrobe provided by donors near and far. The staff works alongside each lady to obtain necessary documents for employment. Transportation for interviews and secured jobs are provided. Ladies are supervised by the local parole office during their stay. When dental, medical, or mental needs arise, ladies are encouraged to make their own appointments, yet Cornerstone provides the mode of transportation. Women are required to reside at Cornerstone for a minimum of 90 days. However, some ladies choose to stay longer because they enjoy the family environment and desire continued accountability.
In the beginning, God gave us a passion to see reunification between mothers and their children. What a joy to see restoration and to gain a new component of ministry with our Cornerstone Kids!
One goal of Cornerstone is to partner with the state to reduce the startling recidivism rate of over 50%. Most women return to the same environments and associations resulting in a cycle of repeated destructive decisions. For those who want a change, the opportunity is given to them.
Cornerstone’s ministry thrives under the guidance of their Board of Directors. There are three avenues through which the organization financially operates: donations 66%, ACC state funding 12%, and onsite resident and subsidized housing rent 22%. The team of Cornerstone recognizes that God is ultimately the Initiator, Provider, and Sustainer of this ministry. Our desire is to see women surrender to Christ and follow His plan for their life.
Cornerstone Transitional Housing Ministry, Inc.
dba Rebecca’s House of Hope
501c3 nonprofit, public charity