Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Holiday rescue appeal: Not for a pet, but for a prisoner!

One of the most satisfying experiences I’ve had in this business occurred many years ago, when a group of inmates contacted me about “Old Bill.” They all felt that this elderly prisoner shouldn’t remain behind bars any longer, and actually, the Parole Board felt that way, too. But, he had nowhere to go. No friends. No family. It happens a lot with these old-timers.

And so we do what HFP does best…started quietly pushing buttons and pulling strings behind the scenes. And sure enough, we found a beautiful hospice care facility willing to take him in. The state dropped him off in his wheelchair and prison blues…no clothes, no belongings, no nothing.

Old Bill didn’t live much longer, but his final days were beautiful…not only for him, but for all around him---residents and staff alike. When I stopped in to check on him he jumped from his wheelchair to give me a tearful hug!

Right now, between Christmas and New Year’s Day, I’m looking again…this time for a place for old Willie. He’s 82, suffering from cancer and a long list of other maladies. I’d like to seek a commutation of his sentence for medical reasons, but the Parole Board won’t even consider it until we find a place for him to live. His older brother lives in Chicago and is unable to take him in. He has some relatives in Tennessee, but no one willing to offer a place to stay.

We’ve put out feelers in western Michigan, and we’re striking out. Many are suggesting that we call here or call there, try this or try that. We’ve been doing that. What we really need is someone to step up to the plate and say, “I can make that happen. Here’s where he would be welcome.”

Getting a commutation is a long shot, but we’re willing to try if someone else can work with us on a place to live for old Willie.

In this most beautiful of all holiday seasons, I cannot imagine what it must feel like to have no friends or family on the outside, and no place to go. Our team has befriended him. Now we’d like to take the next step.

Willie’s praying.

So are we.