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Mothers of prisoners are looking to support other families with incarcerated loved ones

Lena Berkley and Ashonda Wilson of Helpmates/WPDE

It's called Helpmates and it stands for "Helping Educate and Love Prisoners, Mothers and their Entire Support Systems."

Lena Berkely is the founder of the non-profit organization and she has a son currently in prison serving a 30 year sentence for an armed robbery incident at the South State Bank in North Myrtle Beach, back in May of 2016. There were two others involved in the robbery. The three suspects also were involved in a shoot out police chase shortly after the robbery.

"We need to give those mothers and their children a voice that we're here, we're here to help support." said Ashonda Wilson who is helping spearhead Helpmates.

Berkley and Wilson want to offer support to both those incarcerated and their families.

"When a person becomes incarcerated, their whole family is incarcerated and often times you're judged wrongfully by community and from that personal experience that I have with my son, I've found that people are very critical," said Wilson.

The goal of Helpmates is to offer a safe place where stories, struggles and personal experiences can be shared and also to educate the community on matters regarding prison reform, voters rights and other useful resources.

"I want our people in our community and in our families to learn the law. If you don't learn nothing else, learn the law, learn your rights so if you ever have to face that or anybody in your family you will know what steps to take," said Berkley.

"Our communities have been impacted by crime and violence for a long time and I feel that there are a lot of leadership roles that are not helping with actual support," said Wilson.

Both mothers hope to be the support so many families need, while educating the community.

"This organization is going to be able to reach out and help those that's in need while their parents or their father or their mother are incarcerated, that's our goal," said Berkley.

The first Helpmates support session will be held on Feb. 18.

For more information on Helpmates, click here.

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