HYATTSVILLE – Local residents Bernadette and Winston Charles’ voices have touched different people throughout their lives, but on Sunday they were recognized for touching those who need rehabilitation the most—prisoners. The Prison Fellowship Group honored the couple at an awards ceremony where they received an award for bringing hope and joy to those imprisoned throughout […]
HYATTSVILLE – Local residents Bernadette and Winston Charles’ voices have touched different people throughout their lives, but on Sunday they were recognized for touching those who need rehabilitation the most—prisoners.
The Prison Fellowship Group honored the couple at an awards ceremony where they received an award for bringing hope and joy to those imprisoned throughout the last 20 years.
Bernadette said receiving the award was an enormous blessing for herself and Winston. She said it has been a long time coming after 24 total years of singing along with her husband.
“We’ve been married for almost 20 years,” Bernadette said. “We’ve been in the church for so many years now.”
Prior to becoming a huge part of the church choir, Bernadette said she and Winston sang for different cultural groups after meeting in New York in 1990. The developed chemistry almost immediately, she said because she is from Tobago and Charles is from Trinidad.
“After sing with different groups and merging into Christianity, I started singing at churches and weddings and concerts and that kind of thing,” Bernadette said.
She and Winston started singing in prisons in the late 90s.
“I was the prison ministry leader, at that time for my church,” Bernadette said. “We went to the women’s and men’s prisons in Jethrop, the D.C. jail and Cumberland.”
Bernadette said it is a blessing for her to be able to reach out to the people in the prisons who do not have much else to look forward to.
“They don’t have any typical contact to the outside and they actually look forward to us coming to the prisons,” Bernadette said.
Rocky Twyman, a Christian activist in Montgomery County, said Bernadette and Charles deserve the award more than anyone else. He described their voices as similar to opera singers.
“They’ve been doing this prison ministry for 20 years and I just really admire them for doing that,” Twyman said. “They are really dedicated to the cause of prison ministry.”
Twyman said many people are incarcerated in Maryland, but Bernadette and Charles give them hope to continue living.
“They’re just willing to go out and reach out to people,” Twyman said.
Bernadette said she and her husband feel blessed to receive an award, but that is not why they sing. “We’re just humble people who will continue doing the Lord’s work,” she said. “We sing every weekend. Not only for the prisons— have we done it for the churches. We are a part of the National Christian Choir. This is part of our lifestyle.”