Showing posts from November, 2015

Hurting for the "little guy"

In my years of radio broadcasting, a listener finally wrote a letter to the radio station wondering just who was that “little guy” that I kept fighting for?  I never kept it a secret that, as an editorial writer, I was going to flex my muscles on the airwaves for the “little guy.” That is still my passion. On this day before Thanksgiving, I’m sitting here trying to fashion a prayer to be recited by our extended family before dinner tomorrow.  I’m using the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson as a template. As I try to concentrate, my mind keeps wandering to issues that I find troubling at Thanksgiving time, 2015:  terrorist attacks, nations fighting with nations, shootings by those who are supposed to be protecting us, hateful comments toward people of a religion different than my own.  Sad. But once again, the problem of the “little guy” takes precedence. Years ago I took up the cause of a prisoner who was NOT wrongly convicted.  And here’s why. He had first-hand kno

A broken heart for Thanksgiving

Mr. H just received a rotten Thanksgiving present:  He must spend 5 more years in prison.  He has already served 47 years. I first met him just a year ago.  His prison warden, who has a heart for the down-trodden, personally asked me if there was some way that HFP could help this man in obtaining a release. For the sake of background, Mr. H is 74 years of age.  The warden claims that he actually died three different times in her prison, only to be revived again.  He’s had 5-bypass heart surgery.  He has serious leg problems that give him constant pain, and keep him in a wheelchair. His health is a mess. I wouldn’t dare publish his name because of the severity of the crime.  Those in his community who remember it would say he deserves to remain behind bars, and deserves every bit of the accompanying pain and discomfort that he lives with on a daily basis.  On the other hand, I listened to the warden, was given a private meeting with him, and on her recommendation decide

When thanks changed my attitude

I was about to write a “poor me” blog today.  In fact, I had it half finished.  It’s not really my nature to be that negative, but when things start to go south I have to catch myself. I was finding plenty of justification:             Money is not coming in             A recent speech about HFP seemed to fall flat             A prison warden just censored email messages to two inmates. HFP survives on contributions and gifts.  When we slip $10,000 behind budget by this time of the month we have some concerns.  Would we have to go back to some pay-less paydays? I’m used to varied reactions to my speeches about HFP, but I never get used to the fact that some people are just not all this passionate about helping prisoners.  In my mind I quietly wonder how they’d feel if it was their son or daughter, mentally ill, being abused by staff members not properly trained for this kind of care.  I wonder how they’d feel if a handicapped member of their family was getting teas

At 79, right where I belong!

Elliot and Douger have something in common. We’ve been reading and hearing a lot about Elliot Uzelac these days.  He’s the fine American football coach, with a history in the pros and in college football, who at the age of 74 decided to serve as head coach at Benton Harbor High School. For those who aren’t familiar with the story, the high school is located in a community fraught with problems, and all of those problems were reflected in the history of the local high school football team.  Prior to this season, the team had won only 4 games in 8 years!  Uzelac had a successful and productive career as a football coach.  But he couldn’t resist this challenge.  Within days after assuming his new position, things began to turn around.  And after the last game was played, the team was able to boast about its first winning season in 25 years!  The team even went on to win its first game ever in the playoffs!  There’s a much bigger story here.  The kids learned a lot more th

Little things mean a lot!

The year was 1954…one of the most exciting times in my life.  I had my first legitimate radio job:  weekend disc jockey and announcer for WMUS, in Muskegon!  In those days, a disc jockey was really a disc jockey.  For the most part, I was spinning 78 RPM records on the two turntables.  And one of those records was a new hit by pop singer Kitty Kallen:  LITTLE THINGS MEAN A LOT. The job led to a thrilling and rewarding career in radio broadcasting that spanned nearly 30 years.  In 1983, radio was finished, and a new life selling church organs began.  21 years later, this old man began still a third new career:  showing compassion to prisoners.  It’s important to note here that while jobs changed, the lyrics to the old popular song held true, and perhaps have more meaning now than ever before! The song lyrics popped into my head this morning as I was reflecting on the number of prisoners who are just begging for Matt and me to get to know th em.   The underlying message is s