Somehow it felt like worship. There was no sermon. There were no prayers. Religion wasn’t the topic for the day. Perhaps it’s just that God was there.
Former HFP Board Chairman Dan Rooks and I were in prison yesterday. We made the long drive to Gus Harrison Correctional Facility in Adrian, at the request of the local chapter of the National Lifers of America. We’ve done this presentation quite often now, and each time it’s a pleasurable experience.
I talk about HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS, what we try to do for prisoners and also what we absolutely cannot do.
Dan, a clinical psychologist, takes the podium for the second half of our dog and pony show with an actual heavy-duty lecture on anger management.
Now one would suspect that putting together nearly 100 prisoners on a Saturday afternoon, sitting on hard bleachers in a noisy gymnasium, there might be a problem keeping the attention and the interest of the audience. Some guys might be falling asleep. Others might be poking each other and giggling. Au contraire!
There’s a sea of faces out there, most of them black, many of them taking notes. I’m well aware that only 12% of these people ever get a visit. I’m well aware that, after 10 years or so, family and friends seem to drift away and prisoners have little outside support. So I do my best to cover subjects that are of interest to them as one of their friends. I try to explain how and where we can help. But most of all I try to convey the message that, even though we cannot solve every problem, we care. We do this because we care. And I go beyond that, by challenging them. I tell that that HFP bets on the fact that, if we’re kind to them, they’ll be kind to another prisoner. They’ll be kind to staff members. And when they get out, they’ll be a kinder citizen.
Then Dan takes the same ball and runs with it, insisting that kindness feeds on itself. One can hear a pin drop. Prisoners are feverishly taking notes, as he gives them step-by-step suggestions on why angry outbursts occur and how to avoid them.
We get standing ovations.
The Lifers Chapter 1008 presents us with Humanitarian Awards for our “thoughtfulness,” and for “the uplifting of humanity!”
It wasn’t yet Sunday. It wasn’t a worship service. But somehow Dan and I felt a divine presence. No awards were necessary. We were doing what we love. And God was there!