We agreed that prisoners mattered, but we didn’t know what the heck we were doing!


God uses those with limited abilities to further his kingdom.  Bill Gaither 

Bill was chatting with the Booth Brothers, fine gospel music group, in one of his TV videos. His response, as shown above, came after Michael Booth, the group’s tenor, shared that he was unable to reach some rather high notes. 

I found Gaither’s comment meaningful because of the HFP story. 

I started this organization 22 years ago at the urging Maurice Carter, who at that time had served 26  years in prison for a crime he did not commit. There were many more people behind bars, he insisted, who needed outside help. Well, I didn’t know much about the justice system, but I knew about helping prisoners. I had been fighting at Maurice’s side for 8 years. 

It’s fair to say that, when my good friend and lawyer John Carlyle offered to help set up this unique organization, we had no idea what we were doing. Talk about limited abilities! 

1.      Maurice was still behind bars, and had no legal or business experience.

2.      I had earlier careers as a radio broadcaster and church organ salesman, but I knew nothing about agencies that help the incarcerated.

3.      I had zero experience running a non-profit organization.

4.      I had never done any fund-raising. 

Thus began an evolutionary tale of a tiny charity called INNOCENT. 

-Having no experience in web sites, I set up two of them anyway.

-Using my past experience as a news writer, I began telling prisoner stories via email and newsletter.

-Not knowing how or if we would get any interest, I agreed to respond to requests from all states. 

The divine intervention kicked in! 

-Despite my limited experience, we had some lower level successes.

-With my media background, I was able to generate some public exposure.

-With my sales experience, I started making pitches for financial assistance.

-Prisoners who began as clients became friends, then told others.

-Our services were expanded when we discovered that prisoners needed help in many more areas than wrongful conviction.

-To provide better services for our clients, we reduced our assistance focusing on prisoners only in the State of Michigan.

-Responsible, skilled supporters caught the vision and agreed to serve as board members.

-In 2008, a more descriptive name was adopted: HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS. 

22 years later, HFP is recognized as a unique, credible, efficient and compassionate prisoner service agency, with a staff of 7, a dozen volunteers, a battery of professionals in various specialties who serve as consultants, board members who love the mission and care, and a client list nearing 10,000 Michigan prisoners! 

The founder makes no claims of fame. A perfect example of God using two guys with limited abilities to touch “the least of these.”




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