Matthew House is an organization dedicated to assisting children and the families of people incarcerated in Washington’s prisons. When a man is convicted of a crime and sentenced to prison, society often breathes a sigh of relief and says “good riddance.” Left behind, though, are the wives and children. They are left to face increased responsibilities on reduced incomes. They are often abandoned by family for being married to a prisoner. Children are relentlessly teased at school for having a dad/mom in prison. These are the lonely, forgotten lives in the criminal justice system.
Matthew House exists to support these families with a clothing closet, a food pantry, shelter in our three apartments, transportation to various prisons throughout the State, childcare and adult counseling. Studies prove that inmates who are locked up and forgotten are likely to reoffend when they are released. But those who receive visits and are released to supportive families have a much better chance of living a crime free life.
Matthew House is a private, non-profit organization that receives periodic assistance from organizations and churches. But the majority of its budget comes from private citizens like you.
Simon of Cyrene is a non-profit 501(c) (3). All contributions are tax deductible.
In 1979 Father Richard Stohr was appointed a Chaplain at Washington State Reformatory. He saw a great need of the families and loved ones of inmates. After visiting hospitality house in San Quentin, California. Father Richard Stohr returned to Washington and with the help of various organizations, churches and individuals they opened Matthew 25: 36 House of hospitality.
In 1980 Matthew House, which was built in 1912, was purchased
for $55,000 with the help of 104 individual donors, plus gifts from
many various denominations, as well as organizations.
Matthew House was incorporated with the State of
Washington in 1981 as a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization.
Father Richard Stohr explained why the house was so necessary. He said,
“I’ve come to the conclusion that the really ‘hard time’ of prison life is done by the wife, children and parents of an inmate. Loneliness, hurt, poor communication, shame, distance, increasing expenses and very limited income – as well as a variety of other factors – create an over burdening challenge to the stability and future of an inmate’s marriage and family. At the same time, experience shows that the greatest hope for an inmate’s future – is keeping him ‘off the streets’ – lies in the stability and normalcy of his family life.”
Father Richard Stohr named the program, The Simon of Cyrene Society, Inc. after Simon, who helped Jesus carry the cross when he was a prisoner enroute to his crucifixion. Father Richard Stohr passed a way on Sept 26, 1995 of cancer. He was a visionary with an incredible heart and compassion for those in need. He laid an incredible foundation of love that has touched thousands of families for over 20 years. The seeds he planted are still bringing forth fruit through the people who work here, those who pray faithfully for us, those who volunteer, and those who give us unselfishly of their finances so these women and children can find a place of hope and safety from the storms of life.
Mary Stuart Cosby continued to carry on that vision after Father Richard Stohr left for many years, until her and her husband retired. After Mary Stuart left, Rosaleen Wilcox then continued to carry on that torch and continued to minister from a heart of love and compassion to these same women and children. Now after many years of ministry at Matthew House, Rosaleen has moved on and Rev. Linda M. Paz accepted the role as Executive Director. Linda is now carrying on with the same vision and compassion in caring and understanding the need for supportive services for families and loved ones of those incarcerated.
Matthew House is one of the most incredible ministries in the state of Washington. This ministry touches lives every single day with the compassion and love of Christ. Our services provide HELP and HOPE for hundreds of Washington residence’s; as well as families from other states and countries. Volunteers from various, churches, businesses and organization throughout Washington State give hundreds of volunteer hours to Matthew House so we can provide our services to hurting and needy families.
The Simon of Cyrene Society is a non-profit corporation in the state of Washington. It is named for Simon, the Cyrene who helped a prisoner by the name of, Jesus, carry his cross.
Founded in 1980, they have helped thousands of women and children of prisoners with food, clothing, transportation, love, support and hope.
Although not part of the Department of Corrections, the Department of Corrections strongly encourages this service to families, recognizing the great importance of family support to inmates.
Matthew House programs do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed or national origin. Matthew House was founded on the Matthew 25 principle that: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”