Support a Friend Transportation – Business Spotlight By Jannise Bush

Want to stay connected with loved ones? Support a Friend Transportation services will take you anywhere in the state of Illinois.

Dutch King Sr. and Raven Trapp are business partners. Dutch developed the idea for the business while incarcerated. He saw busloads of people brought in from the Chicago area to visit their loved ones, but he had no visitors. “That lonely feeling, like no one cares” fuels Dutch’s passion for helping others in the same situation. Raven joined the business because she is passionate about helping families stay connected. “This is a great idea. Prisoners are people too.”

Rather than become embittered by his situation, Dutch put his time in prison to good use. He researched how the visiting process works. He also noted the impact visits have on inmates, their families, and even the warden. Everyone is happy to see a busload of people on visiting day. There is joy throughout the prison. No matter what crime a person committed, family and friends are impacted. Inmates are fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters in spite of their crimes. If an inmate has been sentenced to life in prison, a mother may never get to see her child again. If a parent is incarcerated, their children still need their love and attention. One of the biggest barriers to staying connected is transportation.

Staying connected with loved ones also gives inmates hope. Without hope, chances of rehabilitation diminish. Loss of connection may mean they have nowhere to go when released. One day Dutch hopes to expand family support to include helping with the transition back into society, including housing and jobs.

Currently, the vision is for the community to come together as a whole to mentor juveniles coming out of the system so they do better. Family support is required for doing better, and in order for the families to adequately support them, they need transportation. Raven says, “It’s a mother wanting to see her son and a son wanting to see his mother or a child needing their mother who is incarcerated. Nothing else matters.”

As with any business, there are challenges: meeting people, spreading the word, learning to run a business, and building a supportive team. Having been incarcerated, Dutch has to face the challenges associated with his past. He wants to overcome the stigma associated with being incarcerated, to be a productive member of his community, and to support others. He’s off to a great start. Support a Friend Transportation rates range from $50 to $75 round trip all day. Raven says, “Why charter a bus. Give it to us. Get out of Peoria and see the rest of the world.” If you need a ride to an appointment, to visit family/friends in prison, or want to go anywhere in Illinois, please call (309) 406-8363 or e-mail familyandfriends82@gmail.com. For more information, visit their website at www.supportafriendtransportation.com or check out their Facebook page.