A local church held a community barbecue today in hopes of bringing together the families of inmates and local law enforcement. It is their first time attempting to bridge the gap between the two groups.
Members of the Holy Spirit Episcopal Church felt called to serve the families of inmates at the McLennan County Jail.
"Our church does a lot of meals for a lot of people, and along the way I realized that we should do a meal for a group of people who's overlooked," Matthew Anderson, the event organizer for the Holy Spirit Episcopal Church, said.
Anderson said they were unsure of how the community barbecue would go, calling it risky.
"These are two groups that in some ways have good reasons to be opposed to each other, to have animosity toward each other, and we recognize that that's a social problem, and we want to help overcome that," Anderson added.
They decided sharing a meal outside the jail visitor center would be a good start.
"We're here as just part of the community. We're not here to punish people, we're just here to do our jobs... but we are normal people just like they are," Cpt. Ricky Armstrong, the McLennan County Jail Administrator, said.
Ena Loa, a family friend of a man who has been incarcerated since October, attended the community barbecue.
"It makes the family members not feel left out, and that there's somebody out there that cares and is willing to do something for the loved ones that are out here that are hurting too because you know it does hurt to know that somebody is incarcerated and you don't know how long they're gonna be there," Loa said.
The Holy Spirit Episcopal Church hopes to make the community barbecue for law enforcement and the families of inmates an annual event.
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