Friday, September 25, 2009

heading north!

Some might say that Marcia and I are heading to Michigan's Upper Peninsula this weekend to celebrate 52 years of marriage! And there's an element of truth to that.

But here's what else is happening.

On Monday, September 28, I'll be driving to Newberry to
-meet with the author of a book of prayers for prisoners that we hope to publish
-meet with a prisoner on behalf of a Canadian innocence project
-meet with a prisoner who is a friend of an HFP friend and fund-raiser, and
-meet with a prisoner who heads up a Christian ministry in that facility.
Being locked up in a prison that far away, these men get few visitors. We'll be there!

On Tuesday, September 29, I've been invited to be the guest speaker at a conference sponsored by the Kinross Ethics Group, in Kincheloe, Michigan. Nearly 100 prisoners at the Kinross Correctional Facility have already signed up for the event! Our friend and client Troy Chapman, who founded the ethics group, extended the invitation and will host the conference.

Please keep these activities in your thoughts and prayers.

And if you're willing to help pick up a tab for a tank of gasoline, we'd be most appreciative.

HFP is here for prisoners.

HFP exists because of YOU!

doug


HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS
PO Box 687
Grand Haven, MI 49417

Thursday, September 24, 2009

you get your downs and you get your ups

I have been here less than three hours today, and the emotional rollercoaster is running at full speed:

PRISONER #1, Michigan---
I hope this letter finds you well. You've probably heard that I attempted to hang myself on August 7, quit talking for 22 days, and quit eating and drinking a few days later. I'm back on medication and I'm feeling better. My depression is so severe that it makes me want to harm myself.

PRISONER #2, Oklahoma
I have no family and receive no mail. So it's pretty lonely here in a super hi-max underground unit being locked down 24/7 in single cells, except for 3-ten minute showers every week. And no chapel. With no TV or radio, time goes slow and it's very depressing.

But then comes a pickup from the mother of a prisoner, Michigan
It was reading your book (SWEET FREEDOM) that helped light my fire and know that sometimes it takes more than the extra mile, more than extremes to be heard, listened to and a difference made! You and your work and your passion have helped to drive me.


Remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison...Hebrews 13:3

doug

On stepping into freedom

It was a three-hour drive.

It was worth it!

I was at a prison to welcome a woman as she walked from behind bars after nine years! We hugged.

I didn't know her well. Our paths crossed because of a mutual friend, who asked that we assist in solving a problem between the family and the state, prior to her release. We honored the request and we helped.

Said Ms. G: I am so thankful for your assistance and could not have done it without you. You have been such a Godsend to so many!

I had the pleasure of holding the front door of the prison as she took her first step into freedom!

As I was reading Psalm 68 this morning, I came across these words: He (God) leads out the prisoners with singing.

My mouth wasn't singing.

But my soul was!


Doug Tjapkes
HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS
PO Box 687
Grand Haven, MI 49417

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Half-a-race!

The HFP Drag-Racing Fund-Raiser had the potential of being extremely successful, and could have raised several thousand dollars. Let's just say it was partly successful.

For background purposes I'll explain that I was racing a 1963 supercharged Studebaker Lark that has a reputation of being one of the fastest stock Studebakers in drag racing today. The engine was built by one of the finest Studebaker engine mechanics in the country, and the car many times has achieved quarter-mile runs in less than 14 seconds!

We promised to make at least ten passes in the Pure Stock Muscle Car Drags at Mid-Michigan Motorplex in Stanton, Michigan, this past weekend, and we asked for pledges ONLY ON THOSE RUNS REACHED IN LESS THAN 14 SECONDS.

On Friday, here's how we fared:
Run #1 13.936 @ 101.24 mph
Run #2 14.027 @ 101.30 mph
Run #3 14.091 @ 100.88 mph
Run #4 13.805 @ 102.84 mph
Run #5 14.058 @ 101.26 mph

By the 5th run we discovered that the rear fuel filter was clogged, so we quit for the day. We were excited, because a quarter mile pass at 13.8 and 103 mph is very respectable in any pure-stock event, and every pass was only a split-second away from the 13s! Plus, our speed consistently topped 100 mph on every pass.

So on Saturday, before pulling up to the starting line, we installed new front and rear fuel filters, new spark plugs, a new supercharger belt, and we added fresh racing gasoline. The car and driver were ready, not only to impress the audience, but to raise critically needed funds for HFP.

Saturday mid-morning...my launch was a good one! The car was all and more than I had expected! But, as I shifted into third gear, a sound similar to an explosion! The drive shaft had broken right in two! A two foot section flew down the drag strip, transmission fluid drizzled over the final third of the drag strip, and we held up racing for a half hour until the track could be restored.

I came home with a broken car and a broken heart.

Our total expenses for fuel, parts, food, lodging, travel and pit crew were less than $600. We should have done very well.

But as it stands, for all of our wonderful HFP supporters who made pledges on 10 runs...be advised that we made only 5 runs, and we were below 14 seconds only twice.

SO, BRAVE SUPPORTERS WHO PLEDGED, YOU OWE US ONLY DOUBLE YOUR PLEDGE AMOUNT, NOT TEN TIMES THE AMOUNT!

We'll also ask if someone would be willing to help with the expenses. That way, every cent raised will go toward our work with prisoners.

Thank you for believing in the car and the driver.

Just wait until next spring!

Doug Tjapkes, President
HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS
P.O. Box 687
Grand Haven, MI 49417

Thursday, September 10, 2009

This year's race dedicated to Arnie!

A wonderful woman called our office in January, 2007. Her brother, who was in a Michigan prison, asked her to notify HFP that one of our clients was being abused by guards. As we questioned her, we learned that her brother was sick and mentally challenged, and wasn't being treated properly by the prison system, either. And so we added Arnie as a client, and assisted his sister Mary Ann in fighting for his release.

I sat next to a jubilant Mary Ann in a Michigan courtroom in May of 2007, when a stubborn judge relucantly agreed with a higher court that Arnie should be released! And thus began a special relationship!

Facing continued physical as well as mental issues, Arnie died in September, 2008. But he was a free man!

Mary Ann has been a dear friend and staunch supporter of HFP, and when we announced the fall drag racing fund-raiser coming up, here was her response:

Doug, I don't care if you win one or 10 races, or none at all. My brother Arnie was in love with cars and loved to work on them. When you drive in this race, would you please take Arnie's spirit along with you? Just invite him to 'ride along' and help keep your car going, that is all I ask. For that, I'll send you $100. (My heart is still broken to lose him. Damn MI prison system for harming my sweet, gentle, ill brother!) I pray I live long enough to help foster humanity in this inhumane system. Love and blessings, Mary Ann

AND SO, THE DRAG RACES AT MID-MICHIGAN MOTORPLEX BY THE SPUNKY GOLD RUSH THIS SEPTEMBER, 2009, ARE DEDICATED TO ARNIE!

Anyone care to match Mary Ann's gift?

All contributions are tax deductible.

HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS
P.O. Box 687
Grand Haven, MI 49417

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

It's drag race time!

All right, girls and boys, it's DRAG RACE TIME and TIME TO RESCUE HFP!

Here's the deal, for those who have never participated. I'm 72 years old and I love Studebakers. I believe they can still win races at the Pure Stock Muscle Car Drags. And so we pulled an old junker of a 1963 Lark from a field in Missouri, and put in the best Studebaker drive train we could come up with, including a supercharged 289 V8 engine! We're still tweaking, but it is a solid 14 second car. On a good day, with a tail wind, new spark plugs and a little extra caffeine for the driver, we can make a quarter mile down into the 13s!

Now here's the deal about HFP. We're broke, but our future is rosy! We now have two organizations pledged to write foundation grants for us, and we have fund raisers who are willing to work without charge to help us get back on our feet! Our problem is right now. We've been so busy with prisoners in recent months that we got behind. I want these grant-writers and fund-raisers to get a fresh start on solid ground.

So, I'm going to race the Gold Rush on Friday and Saturday, September 18 and 19 for HFP. I'm going to make just ten quarter-mile runs---6 on Friday for testing and tuning. Four on Saturday, which will include a shoot-out against a competitor. This will take place at Mid-Michigan Motorplex of Stanton, Michigan. You are welcome to come out!

I'm asking you to make a pledge for every run that is UNDER 14 SECONDS! It it's over 14, it doesn't count. And we want everybody to participate. Heck, if you pledge only one dollar, the VERY MOST IT COULD COST YOU IS TEN DOLLARS!

But we want pledges higher than that! One guy dares to put $150 per run, thinking I'm never going to get below 14! Last spring, I only did it twice!

Seriously, if you pledge $10 per run, the most it will cost you is $100.00. It's tax-exempt because it's a gift to HFP. The only thing you get in return is a grin on your face when I tell you I beat an Olds 442 or a Chevy Corvette! If you'd like to contribute $100 for my registration fee, that would be sensational!

Email your pledges. I'll keep track of them, and I'll let you know on the 20th or 21st how little you owe HFP!

It'll be fun, and it'll be worth-while! Together we'll put HFP back on solid ground.

Doug Tjapkes, President
HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS
P.O. Box 687
Grand Haven, MI 49417

Monday, September 7, 2009

We all need an "attaboy!"

At a time when we are struggling financially, we acknowledge that this doesn't pay the bills. It does much more! It encourages us to press on!

Thank you so much for your help.

You are truly the the face of what compassion and love looks like! I can't find words to express how much your support has lifted me up. Knowing you makes me believe once again in humanity and how we should behave and treat each other.

God Bless you!!

Love, Ms. T (wife of wrongly convicted prisoner)

HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS
P.O. Box 687
Grand Haven, MI 49417

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

on seeking grants

A team of three Grand Valley State University students has been assigned to seek grant money for HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS, it was announced today by Professor Diane Kimoto of GVSU’s Grant Writing Class. The 501c3 agency is based in Grand Haven, Michigan. Professor Kimoto said that the students will be writing grants on behalf of HFP at both the state and national level.

HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS, formerly known as INNOCENT, was founded in 2001 by Doug Tjapkes, of Spring Lake, Michigan. At that time, he was part of a team hoping to free the late Maurice Carter from prison. Carter served 29 years behind bars for a shooting that injured an off-duty police officer in Berrien County, and still claimed he was innocent at the time of his death five years ago.

HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS operates an advocacy program for the incarcerated, dealing with issues of alleged wrongful conviction, care for the medically and physically ailing, assistance for inmates eligible for parole, and assistance for inmates facing death.

Tjapkes, former owner of WGHN in Grand Haven, is the author of the book SWEET FREEDOM, and serves as a staff musician at Ferrysburg Community Church, located in Ferrysburg, Michigan.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

on meeting Mom

I just received a telephone call from a prisoner in Muskegon, a young man with an IQ of 61 who has been wrongly convicted. Over the years we have been unsuccessful in helping him in any way, but he and I have become special friends. Family members rarely visit him; they're too poor. The first time I called on him it was his first visit in ten years!

"My momma is coming here from Detroit to visit me on Sunday for my birthday! She would like to meet you."

"I'm honored to be asked! I'll be in the prison waiting room."