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- To operate and maintain a Hospitality Center at the Elmira Correctional facility.
- To offer both social and spiritual support to families and friends who visit inmates with the intention of strengthening family ties, improving the morale of inmates and thus reducing recidivism.
- To promote understanding of the correctional system within the community.
- To mobilize community resources to support the purposes of the Hospitality Center.
Every Friday and Saturday night at three Manhattan locations, over 3,000 families and friends gather to embark on an overnight bus ride to visit an incarcerated loved one, arriving at about 6:30 in the morning at one of New York's 70 prisons.
The Elmira Correctional Facility is one of those prisons. Until the Interfaith Hospitality Center opened its doors in October 1997, visitors, primarily women and young children, had no place to wait out the hours until they could be admitted to the facility. Now, instead of remaining on their bus or standing outside, they enter a welcoming area inside the building. Each month approximately 12,000 visitors from New York State and surrounding areas pass through the IHC.
Open from 7:00am to 3:00pm weekends and most holidays, a part-time Site Coordinator with one or two volunteers is ready to assist visitors with help where needed. These volunteers are the heart and soul of our operation, with a time commitment usually limited to one Saturday or Sunday per month.
- Ellen Schafer
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