Through providing training to caregivers and a consistent relationship between the infant and mother, Jonah’s Journey strives to be a bridge for families with the end goal being healthy and safe reunification.
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed.” Luke 4:18
We desire to support the infants of these mothers, teaching them the love of Christ, offering consistent care that will help support their cognitive development and emotional health, and be a bridge between the mothers and their infants – helping to sustain and grow their relationship as a family. Additionally, we strive to set up the mothers for success as they re-enter society, giving them a support system and the peace of knowing their infants are being well cared for.
Just as Jonah in the Bible spent time in the whale as the Lord redirected his steps and set him on the right path, Jonah’s Journey is doing that for these mothers: not giving up on them when the world might; voicing that they are enough and they can be great mothers when others have turned their back on them. Jonah’s Journey is stepping in and caring for these infants, and in turn, stopping the cycle of incarceration.
History / Discovery of Jonah’s Journey
Jonah’s Journey began in 2007 when LeAllison Whittinghill was impacted by a baby born to an incarcerated mother at a Nashville women’s prison. When the family learned that a volunteer chaplain was in search of a loving family to help an expectant mother in prison, the Whittinghill’s answered the call to serve. The family and their four children welcomed Jonah into their world one month later. LeAllison made regular trips to the prison to visit with Jonah’s mother throughout the summer. She noted the number of pregnant women within the prison. This prompted her to ask difficult questions about what options pregnant women have within the prison system. Because of their experience with Jonah and his mother, this family was forever changed. They answered the call for additional child placements and set out to provide incarcerated women an alternative to the state run foster system.
It was evident that there was a need waiting to be met and other families willing to serve. Through recognition of this need and many prayers, Jonah’s Journey was founded.
In 2014, Jonah’s Journey partnered with Palmer Home for Children, a residential care organization for children. The two organizations’ missions aligned in their commitment to providing care and a stable home for children in need. The hope of Jonah’s Journey is that through the caregiver stepping in to foster the infant, they are also able to grow the bond between the mother and infant, with reunification being the ultimate goal.
Since 2014, Jonah’s Journey has served 107 children in Middle Tennessee.