Some years ago a very nice person with ties to a major university insisted that she was going to see to it that I received an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree.
I tried to be kind and polite about this, but the effort was doomed before it even started. I tried to explain that showing compassion to prisoners isn’t something that attracts praise and recognition in our society. Nevertheless, she insisted. She had connections, she loved what HFP does, and she wanted the founder to get recognition. Of course, she never saw the little things that we experience daily: the subtle frowns of disapproval, the silence from those whose religious and/or patriotic beliefs supposedly involve support for those less fortunate, the lack of financial support from churches and civic organizations. Society doesn’t really like to think about prisoners.
I’m not complaining…merely explaining. After all, I and those people who work with me, receive amazing awards like they don’t offer at the university:
The prisoners in one of Michigan’s facilities voted to make a $500 donation to HFP from their Prisoner Benefit Fund (What a compliment!)
A prisoner just sent us a $10 check, which he called a “tithe,” because he believes in what we’re doing (His prison salary amounts to less than $20 a month!)
And, a long-time friend just emailed to inform me of positive results from a biopsy. He’s starting to call me “Dad,” because I care and listen to him! (He doesn’t have one of his own.)
I’m thinking about this right now, because son Matt is taking over the helm of HFP. Matt, like his father, is a broadcaster. He’s in sports…I was in news. Broadcasters can and do receive awards. They covet awards. And award publicity attracts listeners and viewers…it can also result in pay raises.
With six years of experience at HFP under his belt, Matt gets the picture. He’s likely to receive some awards in the broadcasting business, but there ain’t gonna be none here.
One of my dearest, bestest, most favorite and most precious friends of all time---a friend that I connected with late in life---was Rev. Al Hoksbergen. How I loved that man! How I miss that man!
As we sipped a little whiskey, he would say, “Doug, you’ll get your reward in heaven.”
And that’s the best advice I can give Matt today, as he capably assumes the role of CEO and President of HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS.
HFP’s hero and leader happens to be a rag-tag preacher who told his followers, “He has sent me to tell the captives and the prisoners that they have been set free!”
For showing kindness to the prisoners he loved, Matt, and I, our staff and our volunteers, could receive no greater reward than to hear that same preacher, the Master, utter these words: “Well done, good and faithful servant!”