Muncie Origins: Owners of Escape Muncie use business to support charity efforts

<p>Escape Muncie has eight games including four that are mobile. The money made by the business funds the ministry Journey Home Jamaica. <strong>Escape Muncie Facebook, Photo Courtesy</strong></p>

Escape Muncie has eight games including four that are mobile. The money made by the business funds the ministry Journey Home Jamaica. Escape Muncie Facebook, Photo Courtesy

Editor's note: Muncie Origins is a Ball State Daily News series profiling various businesses that originated in Muncie.

With the help of locks, puzzles and mystery phrases, one Muncie couple has sent more than 2,400 pounds of clothes, shoes and toys to Jamaica. 

Escape Muncie opened in 2016 to provide funds for the ministry Journey Home Jamaica, and has grown to provide eight games including four that are mobile. 

“Everything we have done [for Journey Home Jamaica], has been out of our own pocket,” said Bruce Everetts, owner of Escape Muncie. “We tried doing a few fundraisers, but we couldn’t get the funds to buy buildings and property through car washes and bake sales. Escape Muncie has been invaluable because it generates income on a regular basis, and it’s fun no matter what.”

In 2011, the Everetts’ took a second honeymoon to Negril, Jamaica, that exposed them to the poverty and need the country had. 

“When we went to Jamaica, we didn’t travel like most people do,” Everetts said. “We didn’t go to a resort and sit by the pool in the sun. We rented a car and traveled the island; we went where most tourists don’t. We got to see the real culture and personality of the island. We saw the real need that they had because we engrossed ourselves in their lives.”

The following year, the Everetts started Journey Home Jamaica, a non-profit ministry, as a place where women and children could go for safety and resources, as well as somewhere single parents could learn life skills. 

“Once the vision was instilled in my wife about opening this ministry, it really stuck with us,” Everetts said. “So we started to establish connections and going back and forth between the U.S. and Jamaica. We became friends with people in the business world and in the church world in Jamaica because they knew what we didn’t.”

Everetts said he and his wife Jennifer Everett also had to teach themselves how the government works in Jamaica because it is not the same as in the U.S. Hearing stories from other ministries who were already stable in Jamaica helped them understand how to ship supplies and materials, how to speak to the government and how to buy and operate land. 

Today, the goal of the ministry is to buy property and start a business where children can temporarily stay until a permanent place is established because there are over 75,000 orphan children on the Island which is smaller than Connecticut, according to the Journey Home Jamaica website.

“Jenna and I have both been involved in children’s ministries all our lives. Jenna was a youth minister, and I volunteered with the youth group,” Bruce said. “We have always been around kids, and we have witnessed how each one has a different purpose. We want to be able to teach and show children in Jamaica that they can do more than the status quo. They don’t have the belief that they can do anything because of their situations, and we want to change their mindset.” 

Eventually, in order to fund their goals for Journey Home Jamaica, the Everetts’ opened Escape Muncie, an escape room business. 

Escape Muncie started as only two escape games, but has already grown to four games, an escape truck with two mobile games and two traveling games. 

The Everetts have designed and created all of their own games and refine and test existing games multiple times. 

Grandma’s Living Room, which took six months of planning to perfect and implement, was the first room that opened after the Everetts bought the building Escape Muncie is located in.

“I have so many ideas for new games,” said Jennifer Everetts, co-owner of Escape Muncie. “I eat, sleep and breathe escape games. I am always thinking about the next step, what I need to do. When I’m not planning a game, I’m working on something else related to the business. I have to be thinking about it all the time because so many people are ready for a new game.”

Among those waiting for a new games is Kiel Erwin, a junior computer technology major and a part time employee for Escape Muncie. 

“Playing the games is a lot of fun, but watching people piece things together is very exciting,” Erwin said. “It’s a fun environment, and it feels more like I am being paid to have fun rather than work.”

Both the Everetts’ and Erwin agree that being behind the scenes in the control room is the best part of the job because they get to witness life changing moments when clients ask to hold special events at Escape Muncie. 

Escape Muncie has currently hosted five engagements and several birthday parties. 

“Doing engagements are fun because they bring us the ring early, and we hide it within the game,” Jennifer said. “The whole family is in on it, so they know which box not to open. They all push the woman to solve that particular puzzle, and when she opens it, it is so exciting.”

One of Jennifer’s favorite events Escape Muncie has hosted, however, was a surprise birthday party. 

“We hid a birthday card with the woman’s name on it inside one of the boxes because her children had taken her out, and they only do activities like this one special occasions,” Jennifer said. “When she solved the puzzle and opened the card with her name on it, she looked directly into the camera and shouted, ‘How did you know?! I’m freaking out!’”

Even though not every visitor gets a special surprise during their game, Bruce said he believes everyone has a fun experience, which is one goal the Everetts have for their business.

“Even if you don’t know where to start, you crack something and it’s a small win,” Bruce said. “You tell yourself that you can get the next one. It’s like you get little rewards each time you solve something new. You get little spurts of satisfaction through the whole game that makes it enjoyable, and we love seeing people laugh and enjoy themselves even if they may not solve the puzzle or get out of the room.”

Because of Escape Muncie, the Everetts’ have helped move a five person family from Haiti to Jamaica, bought a 36 passenger bus for the youth group in Jamaica, and helped send multiple mission groups to Jamaica. 

Additionally, they have used the money from Escape Muncie to give back to Muncie charities including 100 Men Who Cook, Dance Marathon, Boys and Girls Club and United Way. They have given 7,000 pounds of clothes and shoes to disabled veterans and provided food for the local soup kitchen. 

“I think Escape Muncie is a great fit for the Muncie community because it distracts from the negatives,” Erwin said. “Muncie does not necessarily get a positive image, but Escape Muncie helps provide that. It gives people more of an incentive to help not only the local community, but the community of another country. They get to have fun while also knowing that their money is going towards a good cause. Escape Muncie is just a fun place, and the Everetts really make you feel welcomed.”

Contact Tier Morrow with comments at or on Twitter at @tiermorrow


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