In February, four members from our UMC West Chester congregation, along with others from Grove UMC and Marshallton UMC, visited the Chester County Correctional Center for a pillow-making project. Led by Grove UMC’s Marilyn Schneider, we shared in community with women who are currently incarcerated while we worked together to construct fleece heart-shaped pillows that were later delivered by our youth to elderly residents at Brandywine Hall. We found this project incredibly rewarding and would like to share with you our recollections, emotions, and thoughts about our experience.


“We talked and told stories about our similar experiences. Our differences felt unimportant as we shared the common bond of working together on this project.”

— Melinda Ford

“It struck me just how “ordinary” these women appeared. I had to remind myself that we weren’t in just another room at WCUMC working on a craft project, we were in a correctional facility with those who have been incarcerated; but they looked just like us. We listened, we engaged them and although they remarked how much they enjoyed and appreciated this visit, I believe we received even more – the grace of God through these women.”

— Cheryl Monturo

“The spirits of the women elevated with every finished pillow added to the pile. They have compassion for the residents of Brandywine Hall who may, like them, have limited freedom or few visitors. The rare opportunity to give back was very welcome to them.”

— JoAnne Schafer