Thursday, September 18, 2014

Goldfish vs. prisoners

A story making the news this week: Surgery on a goldfish was successful, giving the little swimmer another 20 years! Animal rights activists were elated, and I’m sure the coffers of animal rights organizations began filling up with dollars.

My companion in this venture, Matt, sometimes grumbles that if we were saving the lives of puppies and kittens we would have no money problems. But the simple fact is that we’re dealing with the lives of prisoners. And we have serious money problems. For some unknown reasons gifts dropped off dramatically, and we are left with bills to pay and no money to cover them.

Quitting at this stage of the game is no option. Just in recent days our office heard from

-a distraught mother of a mentally ill inmate who had been told by the head of the acute unit that prison officials had the right to deprive her daughter of food for a day, or water for up to three days;

-a group of angry prisoners in one Michigan unit where a disgruntled plumber had turned up the water temperature to the point that showers were impossible and one risked scalding with a procedure so simple as washing hands (prisoners don’t have the luxury of blending hot and cold water like we do)

-and a desperate mentally challenged prisoner whose psych meds had been discontinued by the prison psychiatrist for no apparent reason.

For the sake of the record, 1), the US Department of Justice is now investigating the water and food issue; 2), the water temperature has now been properly adjusted; and 3), the proper medication routine has now been restored.

One of our board members pointed out that if everyone who believes in and claims to support HFP would throw in a $20 bill a month, we’d meet budget. But as of today, we’re $20,000 behind.

In my public addresses, I often tell the true story of a touching little episode that occurred years ago in the Special Olympics. A small team of youngsters participating in a foot race became disturbed when one of their runners tripped, fell and hurt himself. Instead of continuing the race, they all went back to the weeping little lad, got him on his feet, joined hands, and decided it was more important to cross the finish line together.

That’s all we’re asking for today. We need you to join hands and cross the finish line with us.

The Matthew 25 Finish Line.

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