Award-Winning Work with LSSI
In recognition of her dedication to LSSI's Storybook Project, Sharon Zuiderveld received the 2019 Volunteer of the Year Award from the Illinois Department of Corrections.
Zuiderveld, a member of Faith Lutheran Church, Jacksonville, has been the coordinator for her church's volunteer efforts with the Storybook Project since 2013. The Storybook Project is part of LSSI's Prisoner and Family Ministry. Volunteers conduct "Storybook events" at 18 prisons in Illinois, recording prisoners reading a book to their children (or grandchildren). The recording and a copy of the book are then sent to each child, free of charge.
Faith Lutheran has supported the project in many tangible ways, including donations of laptops, voice recorders, CDs, and financial support. Zuiderveld coordinates with the prison chaplain and volunteers. The most profound part of her volunteering is meeting the prisoners themselves.
"They're thrilled when we come," she said. "Some pray, some cry, but they always thank us profusely and tell us to have a blessed day. We'd like to see the Storybook Project continue and grow. It's such a wonderful program."