Saturday, May 17, 2014

When prisoners say "Thanks!"

One of the early lessons in life comes from your mother and father: Remember to say “please” and especially “thank you.”

Many prisoners obviously forgot some of the early lessons in life, or they wouldn't be where they are today. But we will be the first to tell you that many have NOT forgotten the early lesson of saying “thank you.”

And that means so much to those of us trying to help them.

Matt and I were overwhelmed with tokens of thanks in the past week.

Three separate financial gifts arrived from prisoners; two from individuals, and one from a PBF or Prisoner Benefit Fund. Each prison facility has a PBF. The moneys come from places like the prison store, the prison vending machines, etc. And a committee made up of two prisoners and two staff members makes recommendations to the warden as to how this money should be spent. Most of it goes toward services, equipment and supplies that will improve the lot of prisoners. But they are also allowed to make contributions to agencies that help them. And that's where the third gift came from this week.

Keep in mind that the weekly paycheck for an inmate job could be $11.00. That will give you an idea as to the magnitude of the actual gift to HFP. A $5.00 gift from a prisoner, for example, is a sacrifice. We know that, and its meaning does not escape us.

In the same week we received a letter from another prisoner whom we have helped, in another facility. The PBF has made major donations to charitable organizations, and he wants us on the list. Send literature and information as soon as possible. Another gift is a strong possibility here.

And then came a short note from a guy we have helped along the way who is about to be released. His words: “One week to go and my appreciation for all you have done to help me get through this is starting to bubble up more each day. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

We are often asked if we ever receive positive strokes midst all the negative activity in which labor daily. We are pleased to report that, in addition to the satisfaction that we are doing the work of Jesus, we do, indeed, receive enthusiastic attaboys from behind bars.

It's the kind of thing that keeps us going.

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