History

AFOI was created in 1978 as a volunteer transportation program designed to assist Richmond area families visiting relatives in state prison. Until then, visiting was virtually impossible for low-income families as most state prisons are located in isolated, rural areas not served by public transportation. The initiative was led by Thomas A. Edmonds of Second Presbyterian Church who was familiar with the needs of prisoners’ families from earlier years of volunteering with a similar organization in Florida. Edmonds saw a need in the Richmond community and convinced other downtown area churches to join in by providing much-needed volunteers, personal vehicles and financial support. Within six years, the AFOI program was providing visiting day transportation to 15 state prisons, hot meals when family members returned from visiting, and supportive outreach services such as support group meetings and referrals to other community service organizations.