Not all Anderson University students can wait until graduation to change the world. That’s exactly how Bound for Freedom, a student-owned business began. Audrey Mattingly explains that the project started with a conversation with six friends. "As we were talking with each other and dreaming together of how we could impact our world, … of our hearts for social injustice, and of our desire to see people set free and truth spread, we realized that our hearts were drumming complementary beats," she explains. Mattingly along with Megan Barnett, Jamie Nigh, Melissa Oesch, Erin Sprunger, and Rachel White — who all attend a church called Mercy House together — launched a not-for-profit business together that produces, sells, and donates unique journals. Barnett attributes their pastor with first vocalizing the idea. "We were all in a meeting for the Mercy House internship, and Matt Conner said, ‘Megan, this is something real; you need to make these books and sell them this summer.’"
The young women did not immediately pursue the notion, but the seed had been planted in all of them. "The idea came back and with it a name, Bound for Freedom, and the prayer that God would use it to do something good," Barnett explains. "The five other girls were brought into it one by one, each of them sharing the heart and vision and desiring to see other people set free." Before long, Bound for Freedom was a reality.
Rachel White joined the business early. "I just asked if I could help," she says. "Everyone is helping in their own expertise … each person has some talent or interest in a part of the business, so all our needs are filled."
The business has grown dramatically from the initial concept. Now, the six owners and more than a dozen volunteers create journals to sell and donate. While the owners formalize the legal aspects, the journals are sold in Mercy House, AU’s bookstore, and a bookstore in Vincennes, Ind., called Offerings.
However, it’s not about the sales. The name Bound for Freedom has a double meaning for the owners. The books themselves are bound "in hopes that they will be a tool for freedom" for those who write in them, Barnett explains. But the name also refers to money from the sales. Because Bound for Freedom is a not-for-profit organization, the profits from the journals and some journals themselves are donated to other projects.
"Right now we have one project officially, which is creating memory books for AIDS orphans in Uganda," says Barnett. The children will be given the books to preserve their stories and heritage. Pending projects include partnering with Word Made Flesh and supporting a group starting a trade school in Kenya.
"We want to support projects which would eradicate injustice, to provide hope, and to tangibly be the heart of Christ in the places that are broken, dark, and so desperately in need," says Barnett.
Volunteers gather each week in Mercy House to create the journals and to fellowship with one another while they rip, glue, and sew. They share more than just a passion for Bound for Freedom, they also share their stories, their hearts, and themselves. "We wanted to provide a place for women (and sometimes men) to come together to fellowship," says White.
Anticipation for the future of Bound for Freedom is high. "I hope to see us become more efficient while keeping our values and personal touch to it," says White. "I hope that we continue to take on projects and impact as many people as we can."
— Emily Race (Signatures: spring 2006)