The most remarkable part of being locked up is not the lack of remorse and compassion from these prisoners, but the level of humanness of these so called hardened criminals.
A man came to me the other day because, he said, I was a father and he didn’t know what to do about his family. They still didn’t know he was in jail where he’s been for two months. He was brimming with tears over the mess he found himself in when he was arrested.
Mostly, I get to help men understand the complexities of the legal system. Something just about everyone in jail has a very hard time with, but on those all too many occasions when God sends someone my way who needs a pat on the shoulder, a kind word, or even some affirmation that this event does not define who they are and that they mustn’t let it consume them, I am thankful I was the one who God allowed to be there for them. Even here, imprisoned.
Families these days take on so many different forms and this one was no exception. He’s not with his son’s Mom anymore in the conventional sense, but her other kids call him Dad too and he has been active in their lives as well. This man had been away for two months and hadn’t spoken to or written his family because of the tremendous amount of shame and self depreciation he was dealing with. Though we live in a world of technology and information at our fingertips, he was hoping to find some solace and encouragement to reach out to the only people on earth who even cared if he was seen, ever, and let them know where he is; the Mom at least, the kids, of course, require some diplomacy and a delicate balance between total disclosure and compassionate honesty. I knew his struggle all too well.
I’m still trying to help him make sense of the legal system, but two days later he told me he got out not just one letter, but four: one to the mother of his child and one each to his child and her two others from previous engagements. While he described the tremendous weight that he felt had been lifted from his shoulders, the tears welled in my eyes this time. There hasn’t been an answer yet and I pray that whatever the answer that comes is one he can pull enough strength from to know how important it is that we humans not just be there, but we reach out to the family we have in the eyes of God.
We are so pleased to partner with Ashley Asti. Ashley creates organic custom skin and body oils to honor the skin and soul, with a commitment to ethical creation, sustainability and wellness. She is also one of our adopters.
Each month, Ashley Asti donates a custom oil “to an individual who deserves access to loving self-care, nourishment, and celebration but who may not be able to afford one of my oils on her or his own.”
I was thrilled and grateful to be the recipient of my own custom-made oil this month. Along with the oil, Ashley provided a lengthy description of every ingredient in the bottle and its function.
In Ashley’s own words:
I set out to write women who are incarcerated because I wanted them to know that they are not alone. I wanted them to know that they are loved and supported and that their stories and lives matter because, the truth is, we heal with love, not isolation. But what I’ve gotten in return is a gift far greater and far more precious than any I can offer.
The letters these women, these now friends, send me are lessons in life. I am moved by the strength they hold, the endurance they convey, the powerful rumblings of faith that seem to lift themselves up off the page. These women are my sisters in spirit, guiding me.
I stand with Adopt an Inmate because caring about and respecting all living beings matters, no matter who we are or what we’ve done. Because, in truth, we are destined to bring ourselves down until we know that dehumanizing one dehumanizes all. Bars, isolation, and violence are no longer the answer. We must find better ways to heal and co-create justice.
See these additional worthy organizations that Ashley partners with.
This month at AI we’re coordinating with many of our angel volunteers to get holiday greetings out to prisoners all around the country.
Thanks to everyone who is helping in this effort, including Jen at Inmates Matter Too (and her volunteers), and many of our adopters, including our friend Ashley Asti (visit her shop for organic and ethical skin care products this month, and 20% of your purchase goes to charity).
Thanks to our supporters on both sides of the wall, we are less than $600 away from our goal of $3,000 for our website fundraiser!
From the letter above, which included a donation of six stamped envelopes from an Arizona prisoner:
“You have taken on an enormous task, and placed on your shoulders a heavy burden, because on your shoulders you now carry the hope of those who were hopeless.
Prisoners who have jobs get paid 35¢ an hour (some a bit more). So please keep in perspective that each letter you receive with a SASE represents two hours of raking dirt in 105° Arizona heat, or sweating in a humid upholstery shop. Their letters to you are no small investment but they are worth it to these men. Because they carry hope.”
Volunteers have been working around the clock in preparation for the launch of our re-designed website. Completion of this project will enable us to reach more adopters, and in turn, more forgotten inmates.
Send us some love this holiday, please help us raise
the final $600
We are a registered domestic non-profit and rely solely on donations. no one at AI receives a salary, and 100% of donations benefit prisoners directly. If everyone reading this gave a few dollars, our goal would be met in an hour.
Everyone at AI headquarters and all our volunteers are pulling together to help get some of the backlog of mail cleared out by the end of the year. The office cats, Scout (top) and Boo (bottom) are always doing their part.
Check out the recent stamp donations – we’re so grateful!