A newsmaker you should know: Minister finds her role in helping prisoners

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When Kimberly Greway was a senior at Allegheny College, her future seemed unclear. On one hand, she wanted both to travel and serve others, so the Peace Corps seemed like an option. On the other hand, she wanted to serve in the ministry, so divinity school seemed like the right choice.

She applied to both the Peace Corps and the Divinity School at Duke University and did what she often did when faced with a tough decision. She prayed.

"I figured I would let God decide," she said.

Turns out, she was accepted into both.

"Fortunately for me, Duke agreed to allow me a three-year deferment on my acceptance," the Rev. Greway said. So she went on to serve more than two years with the Peace Corps in Zimbabwe.

It wasn't the first time she had traveled abroad. At the age of 12, she went to France for a summer in an exchange program. The North Hills High School graduate said her parents, Tom and Barb Greway, now of Richland, were always strong supporters of their only child's adventurous heart.

"It must have been hard for them to put me on a plane when I was only 12," she said.

But her father was a teacher and a former administrator with the Pine-Richland School District and her mother an educator as well, so they knew the educational value of travel. What they didn't anticipate was that she would end up in so many countries.

"When I went to the Peace Corps, I am sure they were very nervous, but they have always been very supportive," she said.

Rev. Greway, 35, also credits her family for her strong faith. She was very active growing up at her home church, St. Paul's United Methodist Church in Allison Park, and still serves in a ministry to Zimbabwe, the Nyadire Connection, with members of that congregation.

After serving in the Peace Corps, she went on to study at Duke. During her studies, she also did two field placements, one in a small church and then at a women's prison in North Carolina.

"I thought that I was going to spend the rest of my life as a minister in a church so this would show me a different side of ministry. I loved it -- it was so rewarding," Rev. Greway said.

When she moved back to Pittsburgh, she served as an associate pastor at the United Methodist Church in Mt. Lebanon, work she loved, but then she learned of the opening at the Allegheny County Jail and knew that is where she wanted to be. She accepted the chaplaincy role in 2010.

In her position at the jail, Rev. Greway oversees religious services including those of the other religious leaders who minister to the prisoners. She and other ministers also work with the volunteers.

"We want people to know there is a way for them to serve right here. This is a safe and doable way for them to live the scripture -- it is our ministry to them," she said.

A major focus of her work right now is the fundraising and awareness campaign for the Foundation of HOPE, a nonprofit that serves prisoners to increase their chances for success when they are released.

"The average rate of return for prisoners averages 45-65 percent but our rate return for those who were in the pre-release program is 20 percent and those in the after-care program, 10 percent," Rev. Greway said.

HOPE provides programming, mentoring and of course, ministry, to female and male inmates. Rev. Greway would like to expand HOPE to hire more case workers and offers more programming.

"I really believe what we do makes a difference," she said.

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Kathleen Ganster, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.


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