A Chattanooga-based Christian ministry is helping to heal the wounded hearts of inmates.

The man leading the organization has spent a lifetime bringing hope to others.

"Kids have really been our whole life. My wife and I have two kids of our own, and we've raised 19 foster kids, so it's always been our heart," Joe Smith said.

Joe Smith has been a father figure to troubled kids in Chattanooga for years.

He began a boxing program so kids could put their negative energy in something positive.

He started Youth Community Action Project (YCAP) to help at risk youth.

Simply put, Joe Smith showed children who didn't have anyone that someone cared.

"All of us need a connection with relationships and other people in our life, and we all want to feel loved and feel valued," Smith said.

Then in 2017, Smith decided to retire.

"I played for about a year and then decided it was time for me to go back to work," Smith added. "I didn't do retirement very well."

These days, his focus has shifted from troubled kids to troubled adults.

He's executive director of Prison Prevention Ministries (PPM), regularly visiting jails and prisons to help inmates get back on track.

"Encouraging folks, just loving folks and giving them hope and letting them know there is a better way of life," Smith explained.

When they get out, PPM helps inmates find jobs and housing so they don't end up back behind bars.

"A lot of inmates have burned bridges with family members and don't have any friends and don't have anybody, so what PPM tries to do is give them hope and share with them what we believe is the real answer and that's a personal relationship with Jesus Christ," Smith said.

This month the ministry is celebrating 40 years. Smith is happy to be part of a program that's changing lives.

The ministry's 40th celebration is coming up on March 7th.

They need more volunteers to mentor. To learn more about how you can get involved, visit their website.