Monday, February 29, 2016

Then there were some who did not receive Oscars

I watched only the finale of the Oscar awards ceremony.  Hollywood not only bores me (although we continue to see production of excellent activist films), but the lifestyle that places so much emphasis on wealth, good looks and fashion, has a tendency to irritate me.  Perhaps it was because I had just come from a busy Sunday afternoon and evening in a local bakery and bistro, trying to reach others with a simple message that prisoners deserve to be treated humanely.

I awoke this morning thinking of those who didn’t receive any Oscars.

Sara and her staff at the Village Baker didn’t capture one of the awards last night.  Yet, that fine small business in the Village of Spring Lake chose to donate 15% of its proceeds yesterday to the on-going work of HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS.

Two fine musicians who provided background music for yesterday’s event didn’t even get nominated for an Oscar.  John Mulder and Lee Ingersoll are dealing with enough issues, and are far too busy to take time out for prisoners…yet they were there joining me around the piano, to make the event a shining success.

Pete and Judy VanderArk were there to help host customers…Judy is a member of our board.  If anyone deserves Oscars for compassion and generosity, it would be this couple. 

Gail Winters was there to help, and she’s not even on our board any longer.  But as a former inmate, she has a heart for what we are doing and always stands at our side.  No one has a bigger heart for prisoners.  She would be one of my nominees for an Oscar.

Our newest board member Mary Berghuis is far too busy to take time to hand out brochures at the Village Baker.  This former prison warden with a reputation of having a compassion for and bringing innovation and excellent programming behind bars to her inmates, not only received no Oscar;  she was recently removed from her position by forces who believe that prisoners are there for a reason and do not deserve compassionate treatment.  But she was there last night for us., and for Michigan prisoners. Mary would be at the top of my list!

Steve was one of the customers.  His significant other is behind bars now, and together they are not only battling the system but fighting for humane treatment of inmates.  He and Tonya didn’t receive any awards last night, but their names should have been on the list of nominees.

Tony was also there to support us, the father of a young man behind bars, even though we have been able to do nothing to help him.  The angst experienced by actors hoping to receive a small statuette in Hollywood cannot even begin to compare with the pain and frustration felt by thousands and thousands of parents like Tony and Michelle.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the presence of Barbara Lee, ordained minister, founder of Extended Grace, whose passion for justice knows no bounds, and whose efforts on behalf of the poor and disenfranchised are on-going.  She would be a candidate for numerous Oscars!

Members of two churches in particular were in attendance last night, knowing that a portion of their dollars would touch the lives of prisoners.  I find that so interesting, because on the theological scale, the two churches are at opposite ends of the spectrum:  C3 West Michigan’s Inclusive Spiritual Connection, and Ferrysburg Community Church.  But these two churches get it, and their members know that prisoners deserve better.  In my opinion, both bodies deserve Oscars!

My dear friend and former pastor, the late Al Hoksbergen, was often able to persuade me to do things for which I had no desire or time, and for which I would receive no compensation.  I can still hear him say, with tongue-in-cheek, “You’ll get your reward in heaven.”

Then, again, maybe it wasn’t tongue-in-cheek.

1 comment:

Barbara Lee said...

Thank you for your mention of Extended Grace. Doug, I am not alone in believing that you deserve a whole self full of Oscars yourself! You are so right about disconnect between the pain of the people you serve (and that you experience in your desire to serve them) and the momentary let down of an Oscar nominee or would-be nominee. Priorities in our world are often disconcerting - and yet you continue to challenge them while upholding the values of human decency. This morning, you get all of my applause!