Friends Outside

By Dianne Frazee-Walker  Image courtesy

Friends Outside, located in Modesto California was created in 1955 to bridge the gap between prisoners, ex-prisoners, and their families. Friends Outside has been filling a critical need of the community by offering services and education to people affected by the devastation of incarceration.        

History of Friends Outside

Like many human service organizations the initiation of Friends Outside was the result of an individual reaching out because of a necessity, and compassionate people stepping into action.  

In 1955, Sheriff Mel Hawley had a conversation that marked the beginning of a 59 year expedition to improve the lives of prisoners, parolees, and their families.

An inmate of the Santa Clara County Jail voiced his distress to the Sheriff about not having contact with his family since his incarceration and wondered if his family even knew where he was.

Sheriff Hawley immediately responded to the distraught inmate by asking his sister if she knew anyone who would be willing to help the man. The friend who volunteered to attend to the inmate’s concerns was appropriately named Rosemary Goodenough. The sheriff’s sister and the good enough Quaker Samaritan, Ms. Goodenough had to visit the inmate’s family because they could not afford a telephone. When the charitable women arrived at the family’s residence they were dismayed by the poverty level of the inmate’s family. They quickly responded by gathering up emergency food and clothing from church sources and referred the family to public assistance.

Ms. Goodenough’s good deed did not end there.

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An organization that I’m particularly proud to introduce you to is that of Assisting Families of Inmates ( They are a terrific group that supports families of the incarcerated. According to

AFOI’s website:

“The AFOI mission is to prevent the breakdown of relationships among inmates and their families by providing regular, meaningful visitation support and education services. Our services help prepare families for a successful transition when the inmate is released from prison. AFOI is one of only a handful of such programs to provide these services in Virginia and across the United States.”

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