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16 Salutes: Bringing Light to ‘a Dark Place’

SCRANTON — A woman in Lackawanna County has spent decades helping those behind bars.  She just turned 87 and shows no signs of stopping her work. Her frie...
16 salutes young

SCRANTON -- A woman in Lackawanna County has spent decades helping those behind bars.  She just turned 87 and shows no signs of stopping her work.

Her friends say to know her is to love her.  At 87 years old, Anna Young is slender and small, but she is still a force to be reckoned with.

"Well, you know, when you love what you do, it's no effort, but if you don't like what you do, then it's hell on wheels, isn't it? But I really like what I do," Young said.

For about 50 years, Anna Young has volunteered at the Lackawanna County prison. About twice a week, sometimes more, Anna visits and prays with the inmates. She brings candy and cards.

But more than that, she and her fellow volunteers bring hope.

"They're really just beautiful people and I enjoy being with them and talking with them about their problems and praying with them," Rosemary Grochowski said.

"I am meeting such wonderful women who have been through horrendous situations and are doing their best to get their life back in order," Pat Moroney said.

Volunteer Lillian Vargas tells us helping at the prison can be sad at times, but she tells the inmates if they want, they can change their lives, their future.

"God can change their lives and future."

Anna Young started her prison work in the 1970s after hearing about a lonely inmate from a pastor.

"If God has an audible voice, he said, 'I'm talking to you.' I said, 'You're not talking to me! I can't do that!'"

But she did do that. Anna ended up visiting that inmate for years.

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She welcomed him into her home and later she sponsored other people when they left prison.

There's a room in her home with clothing and Anna invites recently released inmates to take what they need.

Now Anna has dozens of lifelong friends who say she helped save them.

"Jail is darkness," said Angela Rodriguez. "You have no freedom."

Rodriguez spent time behind bars and says Young was a light in that darkness.

"When she goes there, she helps us so much, you know what I mean? She gives us that hope," Rodriguez said.

Young's work makes her perhaps one of the longest-serving volunteers at this prison.

"I'm Catholic so we like to saint people," said Lackawanna County Warden Timothy Betti. "And to me, she's a walking saint. "

She hates being called a saint.  Anna says she's just doing what God wants her to.

"When you love people. Guess what? They're going to love you back. Whether you want them to or not. Isn't that right? What you plant, is what you get back. If you plant love, you get love back. You plant hate? Guess what you get back? Don't want that do we? No, sir."