Companions Journeying Together records
Scope and Contents
This collection documents the activities of the non-profit organization Companions Journeying Together, Inc. to fulfill its mission of preserving familial relations once a parent is imprisoned. The records span the dates 1979-2013 and include governance documents, administrative reports, program records, media coverage, grant applications, and Jana Minor’s operational files.
- Majority of material found within 1992-2005
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is open for research use.
Biographical / Historical
Companions Journeying Together was founded in 1986 by three sisters, Jana Minor, Mary Rammien, and Margaret Rudnik using money they inherited from their aunt, Mary E. Best. The mission of Companions Journeying Together is to be a conduit of Christian values by reaching out to incarcerated women and men in Illinois through a variety of programs designed to build healthy relationships and foster positive communication between prisoners and their families. As stated in their first newsletter, “Companions Inc. desires to be used by God as channels of divine grace.” In 2001, the non-profit, inter-faith prison ministry changed their name from Companions, Inc. to Companions Journeying Together, Inc.
Companions Journeying Together developed a variety of programs for incarcerated women and men ranging from multi-session classes to single day events. The organization’s first classes were called Scripture Studies which were designed to promote spiritual and emotional growth. These studies covered a range of topics from forgiveness and anger management to improving relationships. Jana Minor summarized the rationale for Scripture Studies in the August 1987 issue of the JourneyNotes newsletter. “As we looked at the needs of companions especially those who are imprisoned, we decided that more work is being done in the awakening area (evangelization) than in the development process (Discipleship). We, therefore, established our first program, a scripture study which we hoped would challenge its participants to new growth and personal development as they studied the Bible.” As Minor conducted the Scripture Studies classes, she became aware of the difficulties children of incarcerated parents experienced and was inspired to broaden the organization’s programmatic efforts.
In December 1993, Companions Journeying Together started its most successful program at the Cook County Jail. Aunt Mary’s Storybook Project, named after Mary E. Best, nurtures the parent-child relationship during separation. As part of the program, volunteers from Companions Journeying Together set up a temporary bookstore in the prison facility and record the incarcerated parent reading a book aloud. Packages with the book, the audio-tape, and other personal messages are then delivered to children living with relatives or foster families. Due to early efforts to publicize the program, the storybook project inspired identical programs at correctional facilities in twenty other states. Aunt Mary’s Storybook Project was incorporated into the MotherLove and FatherLove parenting classes at Dixon and Dwight Correctional Centers. Companions started teaching these parenting classes in 1992, which were previously offered by an affiliate organization, Lutheran Social Services of Illinois (LSSI).
In the early 2000s, Companions Journeying Together worked with the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) to develop family reunification programs at the new Decatur Correctional Center. Companions and the IDOC joined forces to establish P.A.C.T. (Parents And Children Together) which is described in a 2003 Contract of Services as a “specific solution designed to bridge the geographic distance and build and maintain family relationships between mothers incarcerated in Decatur and their children living in Chicago.” Other prisons in Illinois that benefited from Companions Journeying Together programs and ministries include Kankakee, Logan, and Sheridan. In addition to their active programming efforts, Companions Journeying Together maintained a long-running newsletter titled JourneyNotes, which published stories of volunteers, incarcerated parents, program updates, inspiring pieces, and poetry. Almost all the issues of JourneyNotes included letters written from the Board of Directors, Jana Minor, and/or the Executive Director, and these letter inserts provided readers with program updates. These newsletters were distributed via mail to both incarcerated parents as well as supporters of Companions Journeying Together. Companions Journeying Together was also able to stay connected to friends and supporters through their fundraising events, which helped establish projects such as an annual Mother’s Day Project, Holiday Project, and Christmas Card Project. Sheila Magee, Companion’s grant writer, and Jana Minor both orchestrated most of these fundraising events and completed the majority of all grant applications, which provided Companions with funding to cover all operating costs.
Between 1986 and 1994, Jana Minor preformed many of the executive responsibilities of Companions, Inc. working alongside members of the Board of Directors. James Fitzgerald was hired as the first Executive Director (1994-1996) for the organization. Jana Minor served as the interim Executive Director after Fitzgerald’s resignation until Monica Halloran was hired in 1998. In 2003, Karen Hutt was hired as third Executive Director of Companions Journeying Together.
6.5 Linear Feet (20 boxes)
Language of Materials
The Companions Journeying Together records are arranged into ten series: 1. Background and Overview, 2. Governance, 3. Financial Files, 4. Grants, 5. Publications, 6. Programs, 7. Jana Minor Files, 8. Monica Halloran Files, 9. Audio and Visual Material, and 10. October 2013 Addition.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Accession 2012.90; 2013.57
M. Morley 2013
- Imprisonment--Social aspects--Archival resources--Illinois Subject Source: Unspecified ingested source
- Prisoners' families--Archival resources--Illinois Subject Source: Unspecified ingested source
- Prisoners' families--Effect of imprisonment on--Archival resources--Illinois Subject Source: Unspecified ingested source
- Prisoners--Family relationships--Archival resources--Illinois Subject Source: Unspecified ingested source
- Prisoners--Religious life--Archival resources Subject Source: Unspecified ingested source
- Prisoners--Services for--Archival resources--Illinois Subject Source: Unspecified ingested source
- Religious work with prisoners--Catholic Church--Archival resources Subject Source: Unspecified ingested source
- Guide to Companions Journeying Together records
- M. Morley 2013
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English