You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks


Welcome to

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on

Waynesville family volunteers to help prisoners

Faith-based program designed to help inmates transition to successful lives.

The prison system in America, while serving a purpose, is far from perfect. With little focus on helping incarcerated individuals transition out of prison, it is estimated that 50 percent will be incarcerated again.

A Waynesville family is working to change that by helping prisoners successfully transition into day-to-day life outside.

Glen Doepel began working as a volunteer at the Lebanon Correctional Institution in 1993.

“When I was younger, I was driven way from the church by good-intentioned people,” Glen said. “When I married my wife, she talked me into going on an Emmaus weekend and it was then that I found Jesus.”

That weekend, designed to help any Christian strengthen their spiritual life, inspired Glen to devote himself to helping others. His preconceived notions about prisons, however, had him skittish about working with inmates. “Within two weeks, I was working in the correctional institution,” Glen said. “Helping to introduce Christ to the prisoners. I knew that was my calling.”

Glen said he soon “fell in love” with the work he was doing and the “residents” of the prison. “We are called to help everybody,” he said. “Those that are incarcerated are part of that group.”

About three years ago, Glen’s son Grant, also of Waynesville, started working in the prison with his father. “He saw that the residents needed more help before they get released,” Glen said. “When they hit the streets, they don’t have much support.”

Since prison life is not about having a lot of opportunities for choice or decision making, Grant wanted to find a way to help inmates transition to the outside world again and to be successful doing it. He created the Four-Seven prison ministry, in conjunction with Crossroads Church in Cincinnati, to help change the lives of the incarcerated and those released from prison. The mission is to provide these individuals with tools and information necessary to be successful outside of prison walls.

Through faith-based support and guidance, the Doepel family, along with hundreds of local volunteers, is making a difference, not only in Lebanon but also now in Dayton and other parts of Ohio.

“It’s hard for us to understand on the outside,” Glen said. “When someone does something for you in prison, there is always an expectation. But we do it out of love.”

It came as no surprise to Glen when his son wanted to help in the prison once he became an adult. “Grant started going into the prison when he was about 24 and fell in love with it,” Glen said. “My youngest son will be going with us soon.”

Grant’s wife, Kyla (Doepel) has also been an integral part of the program since marrying into the family a few years ago.

“I was curious about it because I was studying psychology in college,” Kyla said. “I also have a connection because my biological mother was in and out of jail most of my life.”

Kyla’s first experience in the prison was helping in the kitchen while her husband and father-in-law ministered to the residents. “Grant had the idea that we could expand this and wanted to help both men and women,” she said. ” I can give a woman’s perspective and support them. We want them to know there are people that care about them.”

Not only does the Four-Seven team offer Crossroads church services inside the prisons, but it also offers courses that teaches skills ranging from public speaking to interviewing, to resume writing and managing finances. The goal is to individuals together for meaningful conversation and experiences.

The group has now expanded its work to include the Ohio Reformatory for Women (Marysville) and the Dayton Correctional Institution for Women. “We had about 60 women in our first class,” Kyla said. “It was extremely powerful hearing them opening up about issues they were facing.”

The Four-Seven also invites guests, like Brian F. Martin, the CEO of the Childhood Domestic Violence Association (New York), to speak the inmates.

“The Four-Seven is helping an often-ignored population and their work is critical to getting to the root of many of society’s problems,” Martin said. “If we can help make a positive change in the lives of men in a maximum security prison, we can do the same for anyone that experienced childhood adversities like domestic violence. It’s never too late or too early.”

Always in need of more volunteers, the Four-Seven group understands that not everyone is comfortable in prison environments. Kyla said that they also need letter writers and mentors. “It’s about humanizing these inmates and letting people know there is a soul inside these bodies,” she said. “If we aren’t willing to go in and help them, they are going to come out helpless.”

You can find more info on The Four-Seven at and also

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Local

Cincinnati club shooting: Dispute ‘escalated into shots being fired’
Cincinnati club shooting: Dispute ‘escalated into shots being fired’

The investigation into the shooting inside a crowded Cincinnati night club that killed one and wounded 15 others early Sunday morning will take a long time, said Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley. No arrests had been made as of Sunday evening, and Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac couldn’t confirm if any of the possible shooters were among those...
Madonna’s twins get first Barbie dolls, singer posts video
Madonna’s twins get first Barbie dolls, singer posts video

Madonna’s twins got their first Barbie dolls this weekend and the entertainer is sharing it with the world. >> Read more trending news The “Material Girl” posted adorable video of newly adopted twin daughters, Estere and Stelle playing with the dolls. In the short video posted on Instagram, the girls sang the Finger Family song...
Fairfield school board’s newest member: Business background an asset
Fairfield school board’s newest member: Business background an asset

Long-time school volunteer Carrie O’Neal’s path to a seat on the governing board of Fairfield Schools started with tragedy. In December, veteran school board member Jerome Kearns died. The father of three, who was also assistant director of Butler County Job and Family Services, then had his elected school board seat filled by a unanimous...
Cincinnati’s deadly night club shooting: What we know now
Cincinnati’s deadly night club shooting: What we know now

Early Sunday morning, gunfire broke out at the Cameo nightclub in Cincinnati, killing one man and wounding more than a dozen others. Here are five things we know now about this deadly shooting: The man who died in the shooting has been identified as O’Bryan Spikes, 27, of Cincinnati. There were 15 other victims wounded by gunfire, including two...
3 things to know about Cameo, site of deadly night club shooting
3 things to know about Cameo, site of deadly night club shooting

At least one person has died and another 15 were injured following a shooting at Cameo Night Club in Cincinnati early Sunday morning, according to the Cincinnati Police Department. Police were called to Cameo in the 4600 block of Kellogg Avenue around 1:30 a.m. on a report of a shooting. Here’s what we know so far about the night club. Cincinnati...
More Stories