About 55 women turned out to celebrate Rev. Jean Russo Friday, Feb. 1, during the Church Women United of Manatee County's Human Rights Celebration at the Longboat Island Chapel. Each year, the group recognizes an individual who has shown compassion to those less fortunate, said chapter president Sandra Holley.
Since 1976, Rev. Jean Russo has served in the Russo Prison Ministry, started by her late husband, Jim. It is a faith-run halfway home, where men just released from prison can begin to let their guard down and feel accepted. On their immediate release from prison, men receive shelter, food and clothing, as well as assistance in transitioning into society by means of transportation, obtaining identification and other legal documents, and finding a job.
"We help them to grow in their faith and become contributing members of our community," Russo said.
Russo said she was honored to receive recognition for doing something she loves. "It's a privilege to give someone a second chance and to watch God work in the lives of people," she said.
To learn more about the program, see jimrussoministry.com/. For more on Church Women United, see churchwomen.org/.