FERGUS FALLS -- Megan Anderson has kept her mother’s legacy alive in an unconventional way.

Anderson’s mother, Kathy Muench, worked at the Becker County Jail in Detroit Lakes as a jailer for 15 years. While she worked there, Anderson began writing letters to some of the inmates, something her mom inspired her to do. Her mom died in 2013 and, 2 1/2 years ago, Anderson began writing letters to inmates again.

“For me, it’s keeping my mom’s memory alive. She always told me, instead of going to work, she was going to see ‘extended family,’” Anderson said.

Anderson, a 2003 Detroit Lakes High School graduate, studied ministry and she views this letter exchange, which she does with six inmates in Minnesota and two in Kentucky, as a kind of ministry for her.

“Just a simple letter is like a million dollars for them, that somebody cares and appreciates them for who they are,” said Anderson, who today lives in Fergus Falls. “They just enjoy having something positive coming.”

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She began writing her letters again when a friend’s husband was arrested; her first letter was to him as his family appealed his case. From there, her name spread and other inmates became interested in receiving letters from her.

“It’s been pretty much from there, it’s been passed on from one inmate to another, that’s how I got eight of them. He would write me back, ‘Would you be willing to write to so-and-so?’ and that’s how I picked them up,” she said.

She’s never felt afraid or uncomfortable speaking to them, and doesn’t ask them why they’re incarcerated and they don’t tell her.

“Most of these individuals, they’ve been in and out of prison, they just didn’t have somebody to talk to,” she said, so she writes to them as if they’ve done something minor and they appreciate that — it’s important to them to feel that somebody still cares.

The guards enjoy her letters, too.

“I get little comments from the guards, something I said in the letter that made them laugh or made their day brighter. It’s always been positive.”

When her mother worked at the Becker County Jail, Anderson would occasionally be able to see the men she was writing to. Over the past few years she hasn’t gone to visit any of her pen pals, but she’s hoping to change that soon.

“I will be starting to (visit them) in a couple of weeks, I’ll be going down. I got on their list of people to be approved to come see them,” she said. While her mom was like a mother to the inmates, Anderson says they mostly see her like a sister.

She also says those who would like to speak with her about her letter-writing can contact her through Facebook.

Anderson writes letters daily and receives responses regularly. She especially likes when they draw pictures for her, they draw flowers, dreamcatchers, graffiti names, different types of cars and all kinds of things. Her mother kept photobooks of art inmates gave to her so Anderson treasures the art she receives as it calls to mind that special memory of her mother.