FRIENDS OUTSIDE IN SONOMA COUNTY embraces an underlying belief that every human being has value and the potential to add value to his or her family and community.
Our mission is: "To reduce cycles of violence, crime and incarceration by empowering and assisting offenders to make choices for successful re-entry into their families' lives and the community. We act as a bridge to connect the population we serve, the community at large, and the criminal justice system."
We provide services and programs for Sonoma County jail inmates and their family members in order to improve their circumstances and strengthen their family relationships.
Our Drop-In Center is located in the lobby of the Main Jail, where we act as a bridge for family members and professionals to address inmates' issues. We also bridge inmates with the outside world as we respond to over a thousand inmate and family requests for services each month. Our services and programs are designed to complement Sonoma County Sheriff's Office protocols.
The Sonoma County FRIENDS OUTSIDE organization was started in 1982 by Virginia Heck. She and other dedicated volunteers worked in a trailer in the jail parking lot doing whatever was necessary and possible to improve the quality of life for families affected by incarceration.
In 1986 the organization became incorporated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit agency called FRIENDS OUTSIDE IN SONOMA COUNTY. When the new main jail began housing inmates in October, 1991, the new jail facility included an office space in the jail lobby specifically intended for FRIENDS OUTSIDE IN SONOMA COUNTY to provide assistance for inmates and their families.
Under the direction of a volunteer Board of Directors, staff manages programs with the priceless assistance of interns and volunteers. We coordinate with a wide variety of organizations to better ensure the highest value of service.
We share a similar name and purpose - as well as resources - with a network of separately incorporated and affiliated Friends Outside organizations throughout California.
"No matter how much we may think we are, none of us is perfect. We all make mistakes and we all have to be willing to give each other a second chance.''
- Virginia Heck -