Community Champions

Sharon Knowles Office Coordinator, Illinois MENTOR
Grant Recipient, Bethel Apostolic Faith Church

Sharon’s personal mission is to build people up and let them know that there is hope. She does this through volunteering with her church in Chicago, Bethel Apostolic Faith Church, where she teaches, councils, and preaches.

Through her church, Sharon has been doing Prison Ministry in Cook County every Thursday for the past twenty years. She teaches a class called “Going for the Gold” which teaches the men who are incarcerated about accountability, time and money management, and how to look at life and ways to be productive in society.

“I think people who have been in prison are often written off in our society,” said Olwen Hansen-Blake, Quality Improvement Director, Redwood North. “Sharon has the compassion and understanding of how these men ended up in prison and she has faith that they can make different decisions and turn their lives around. She is making positive changes that ripple through the community in ways she probably doesn’t even know.”

Sharon enjoys being in the trenches, always there to listen to both men and women in the community about any of their troubles and to help them get back on track. She explained that, “there is good, bad, and ugly but these individuals have no support systems and just want to know that someone cares.”

When asked what motivates Sharon to give so much of her time she responded, “If you can do it, just do it. It is worth the sacrifice. When you change a life, you change a family and generations to come.”

To learn more about Bethel Apostolic Faith Church, please visit their website at