All writing is a form of prayer - John Keats

Friday, June 19, 2009

Ending the week on a positive note

-I had lunch today with Ed. A year ago I visited him in prison!
-I'm preparing a statement for the Parole Board. A wrongly convicted friend was suddenly called up for an interview on Monday! I'll be there.
-I opened a file for a woman going to prison for life. Her bunkie, who admits doing wrong, forwarded a message to me from the county jail saying that this person was coerced by authorities and is innocent!
-I sent a note of congratulations. We had been advocating for a prisoner suffering with cancer. He was freed last night!
-I downloaded a foundation resource outline. A university professor promises her grant-writing class will help our agency find grant money when it starts up in August!
-I received a note from an attorney in California who read about us in a newspaper: "Good to know you're still in the battle!"

We didn't meet expenses this week, but you can be reassured that your support makes a difference!


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Can the Lark do it? Can Doug do it?


Again this year, HFP President Doug Tjapkes is taking pledges for the F.A.S.T. muscle car drag races next weekend. He'll be racing his 1963 supercharged Studebaker Lark at Martin, Michigan, on Friday and Saturday, June 26 and 27, and is taking pledges for charity. He will make a maximum of ten quarter-mile runs, if the car remains mechanically sound. You are invited to pledge an amount only for every run that is made in less than 14 seconds!

Can a 45 year old Studebaker perform in the 13s? Can a 72 year old race driver pull it off? If you pledge $10 for every run under 14 seconds, as an example, the most you will contribute is $100. The car has been in storage since last fall. The driver hasn't raced since last year! How high do you dare pledge?

All contributions are tax-deductible, and will support HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS. Doug will buy his own racing gas!

You may email your pledge now. Results will be announced June 29.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A ray of sunshine in a dark prison cell

In discussing the subject of writing letters to prisoners, John Speer says, in his book UNCOMMON COMMUNITY: "A genuine correspondence offers a prisoner an opportunity to peer into a home and a life that may be substantially different from anything he or she has ever known, and it offers the free-world writer the same opportunity."

With that in mind, HFP has been developing a letter-writing program.

After several months of meetings and discussions with a select committee at Plymouth Congregational Church in Grand Rapids, I am pleased to report that this past Sunday, June14, we launched an innovative new program for writing letters to prisoners. It's called Project Window, designed to shine a little light into dark prison cells. About a dozen people have committed to writing one letter a month to a single prisoner, for at least one year. The names of the prisoners were carefully chosen by HFP. The letter writers use only first names, and the return address is the church. A set of suggested guidelines has been prepared by HFP.

It is our hope that we can enlist more organizations as partners for Project Window. For more information, please contact our office.

Meanwhile, as we continue to innovate, expand and touch lives behind bars, WE NEED FUNDS, AND FUND-RAISING IDEAS! Your help this month will be greatly appreciated!

Doug Tjapkes, President
20 W. Muskegon Avenue
Muskegon, MI 49440

Thursday, June 11, 2009

One of those difficult moments

I'm not going to ask for money, but if you believe in prayer, I am asking that you'll join me on this one.

Here's the thing.

After being asked to vacate this building, we found new office space in Grand Haven, Michigan, and we'll be moving soon. And, it will cost us NO CASH! We have worked out a barter arrangement, so that all money contributed to our organization will actually go directly into our programming. We are blessed.

THEN, wonderful supporters of our organization completely furnished the office!

BUT, now we must have roughly $5,000 by the first of the week to operate. I'm not asking you for the money. You have been most gracious and generous during very difficult economic circumstances. But, after running a little short each month, things finally caught up with us.

To give you an idea of what's happening: We've responded to 28 requests for assistance already this month! I'm going to testify in one of the most important parole interviews in our history in just a few weeks, sitting beside a man who has been in prison for 36 years for a crime he did not commit!

We cannot stop now. We must press on! We continue to believe in miracles. We need one now.

Just your prayers. That's all I ask for.

Peace and love in the struggle,

Doug Tjapkes, President
20 W. Muskegon Avenue
Muskegon, MI 49440

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

on saying "Thank you!"

A wonderful supporter of HFP surprised me this week. He and his lovely wife, once again, displayed generosity like nothing we have ever encountered since getting into this "prisoner" business. My mother taught me to always say thanks, and I really try. And I'll assure of this: We say "thank you" to the wife of a prisoner who gives us one dollar a month, just as much as we thank our major supporters. But back to the surprise.

He told me that I would be amazed to know the number of people who do not take the time to say "thanks." This couple are among those who have been blessed, and they are quick to share what they have with those deemed worthy of support. "They just expect it from us," he explained. "They don't feel that they have to thank us."

I immediately thought of the ten lepers.

As (Jesus) was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him...and called out..."...have pity on us!" When he saw them, he said, "Go, show yourselves to the priests." And as they went, they were cleansed.

One of them came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him---and he was a Samaritan.

Jesus asked, "Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?"

I hope to thank a lot of people this month, because this slump in the economy has really hit us! We need help now!

First, I thank our dear friends, mentioned above, who have given so much, never asking for thanks. You'll never know how much they have given to and done for us since they met our founder, the late Maurice Carter. And I'll never tell.

Second, I promise you that if you can squeeze a little out of your budget this month to keep us alive, you will be thanked!

As a matter of fact, THANK YOU for being on our network, and caring about our cause! THANK YOU for being a partner in an unpopular project! If you can do no more, THANK YOU for your prayers!

Doug Tjapkes, President
20 W. Muskegon Avenue
Muskegon, MI 49440

Sunday, June 7, 2009

on why our partnership is so important!

Working with prisoners helps free us from cynicism and despair. If you want to learn how to keep hope alive, involve yourself with the voiceless ones, with the infinitely oppressed. Involve yourself with the desperate, the unloved, the wretched, the thrown-away souls. There you will find hope and compassion; you will find astonishing art and wisdom. Prisoners will remind you that even here, even now, even in the darkness, the spirit is strong, the spirit is free, and the dignity of being human is alive with possibility every moment. You will be reminded that it is self-indulgent to lose hope in your relatively privileged circumstances. You may even be inspired to create a better world for free men and women to step into, once they are released!
John Speer

Grasp our hand as we seek to do just this, starting right now!

Doug Tjapkes, President
20 W. Muskegon Avenue
Muskegon, MI 49440