The idea for WSP originated in 1993 with a program founded by Lutheran Social Services in Chicago. Judith Dullnig was inspired by friends in Louisville, KY who had a similar program. After about a year of research, connecting with a social worker within the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, finding volunteers and searching for funding, Storybook Project began within the Outreach Program at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church of Austin, Texas. Five volunteers carried four tape recorders, 25 new books, cassette tapes, and padded mailers to the Hilltop facility in Gatesville, Texas in 2003. The Gatesville area has six female prisons and has the largest number of female offenders in one area in the entire country.
Judith was invited to transfer Storybook Project to Texas Inmate Families Association (TIFA), and it remained there for two years. TIFA planned to include men in the program, which would change the dimensions of Storybook Project. The program then became Women’s Storybook Project of Texas, which continued to focus on children of incarcerated mothers. From 2005-2013, Women’s Storybook Project operated under the umbrella of the Austin Community Foundation. In 2014, WSP was recognized as a stand-alone 501(3)(c) organization.
To learn more about Judith Dullnig, click here to read her biography.