Breathtaking! That’s the only way I can describe 2018 here at the HFP office. The gate opened on January 1, and we were off and running!
Our goal is to serve prisoners, and we did that in record numbers, responding to more than 50 contacts in one day, more than 600 in one month, and more than 6,800 for the year. To better equip them for the job, we took the entire gang to Lansing to interact with the MDOC.
2018 was the year we put on a new face: new logo and new letterhead.
With professional services provided by Dr. David Schock, 3 new videos were produced featuring newly released inmates, and a fourth featuring Sister Helen Prejean.
We brought renowned guest speakers to the community: nationally known peace activist Kit Cummins to Western Michigan Christian High School in Muskegon; nationally known capital punishment foe Sister Helen Prejean to Grand Haven.
We were excited to add four prominent personalities to our Board of Directors: Rev. Rodney Gulley of Berrien Springs, Dr. Michelle Loyd-Paige of Muskegon Heights, Dr. Veena Kulkarni-Rankin of Ann Arbor, and Dr. K. Aaron Van Oosterhout of Holland. In addition, Susan Greenbauer became the newest member of our staff, and Grand Rapids attorney Brent Geers became the newest member of our team.
The year also had its downside. We lost two dear friends, inmate David Duyst, who was battling a wrongful conviction; and attorney John Carlyle, who helped us get our start in 2001.
For the Douger, it was an up and down year. Open heart surgery at Thanksgiving slowed things down, but there were highs as well. We were honored in August at the U.S. Coast Guard Festival Heroes and Legends dinner for “tenacious work on behalf of those forgotten and behind bars.” And, we’re proud to report that a new book, HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS?, was published late in the year.
Matt and I have launched a new podcast series soon to be released.
And, we ended the year on a high note. After numerous trials and failures, our efforts to obtain a commutation of sentence for inmate James Hicks were successful just before Christmas! He’ll be freed, after serving more than 32 years in prison, probably early in 2019.
God has blessed HFP beyond measure. We enter 2019 with eager anticipation!