Sam was 7 years of age when he was removed from his home. When his father was no longer in the picture, his mother couldn’t handle all the kids alone. He was placed in foster care. That was a long time ago.
Many, many years later, sitting in a Michigan prison cell, Sam did a lot of thinking about his childhood, and wondered if his mother was still alive. How he’d love to talk with her! He heard rumors that an organization called HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS helps in situations like this. He called our office.
I’m cutting the story very short to tell you that Sam’s mom contacted the HFP office the other day. She was weeping. She and her son have reconnected!
We call it “People Search.” It’s one of the popular services of HFP, and it got off to a rocky start. To say that the Michigan Department of Corrections didn’t like the people search idea would be an understatement. Their concerns were valid. Some people don’t turn off the criminal switch when they become incarcerated. Yet, 90% of the people who go into prison get out again someday.
The MDOC could just picture a guy trying to persuade us to find his long-lost Aunt Jennie, when the person he hopes to track down upon his release is really a retired prison warden with whom he had a sour relationship. We had to avoid that! Hoping to make this a compassionate service and working with the MDOC, we developed a solid plan. When an inmate hopes to find an a long-lost relative, we first take steps to confirm the relationship. Then, instead of giving the prisoner any information, we contact the relative. We explain the situation, and ask whether that person has any interest in reconnecting. If the answers are all positive, we take the next step.
Our successes have been most gratifying.
HFP staff member Ted Dimke stopped everyone from talking in the office the other day to say he’d just gotten off the phone with a prisoner who wanted to thank us. A family that had completely been out of touch with him was back in his life. Family members were coming to see him. “The guy started getting tears in his eyes, and wouldn’t hang up,” said Ted. He finally just concluded the conversation by saying to the HFP team, “I love you guys!”
Action with Compassion!
Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him. Ps 127:3