What a birthday! Staggering statistics! Promising progress! Amazing accomplishments!
It was August 29, 2001, when I placed my signature on the bylaws of a new organization called INNOCENT! My friend Maurice Carter, serving prison time for a crime he did not commit, had been leaning on me for months, insisting that we needed to start an organization that would help prisoners in situations similar to his. I rather reluctantly agreed. A one man show.
I manned the telephone and worked the cases on a part-time basis as I continued my occupation as a seller of church organs. By 2004, my enthusiasm was on a roll. That was the year that Maurice was freed, the year that Maurice died, and the year that I moved into our first office and began this work on a full-time basis.
Time and experience helped us fine-tune the organization, narrowing the scope to state prisons in Michigan alone and widening our services to assist more than the wrongly convicted. By 2008, it became apparent to our directors that a name change was necessary. Humanity for Prisoners much more accurately reflected our mission.
The word quickly spread among prisoners: Someone cares! Records broken, year after year: 100 calls a month, then 200, 400, early this year 700, and right now---August, 2019, our birthday month---nearly 900! Response now provided by a team of 5, several dedicated volunteers and a panel of professional advisers, with all action originating right here in our very own quarters!
On this, our 18th birthday, I can think of no higher tribute than the words and gifts of prisoners. We sent a thank you note this week to an inmate who donated $12.00. That’s probably half of his monthly salary. A check came from another guy last week: $15.00.
We’ve been trying for ages to get a Public Hearing for Joe, who has served nearly 40 years:
HFP has been a really big part of my life over the past 4 years and I am so very grateful for all that you've done for me. Now I have an opportunity to put this prison life behind me and begin to rebuild my life on the other side.
Bob has terminal cancer…we sent our compassionate physician to see him a few days ago:
I once again thank all of you at Humanity for Prisoners. You all have lifted my spirits at a time that they were really low.
Finally, a prisoner description of the HFP team:
In our world of loneliness and despair there is an enormous need for men and women who know the heart of God, a heart that forgives, cares, reaches out and wants to heal. In that heart there is no suspicion, no vindictiveness, no resentment, and not a tinge of hatred.
Says the old hymn writer: Little is much when God is in it.
Amen and Amen!