The Faith and Character Program
After nearly a month in hopeful anticipation, “The Faith and Character Program/Dorm” adventure has officially begun! The first meeting with Phase I, Group A with Counselor M. was for issuing journals and assignment folders to us. Conselor M. asked us to draw a picture, on our journal folder which reflects our character and where we are in our life’s journey.
Ultimately the success of this program, or the failure of it, depends largely on us (the men of the program) and how dedicated we are to one another and the program. Many are content to sit in front of the television for hours upon hours, or playcards, dominoes, and Scrabble constantly, rather seeking to expand and exercise their minds.
As I walked to breakfast this morning, I enjoyed the beauty of the stars against the fading night sky. And I praised God for this beautiful scene, He allowed me to see one more time.
The chaplain visited the dorm, and handed out a worksheet on “Responsibility,” and informs us that he will return weekly to give us assignments.
Counselor M. gave us an assignment today. To write what the poem “The Crayon Box That Talked” (By: Shane DeRolf) meant to us. The poem tells the story of the importance of unity, and the positive, creative, and wonderful benefits of true unity. It tells of the dangers that our preconceived opinions, prejudices, and misconceptions of others will do to unity. These negative forces are evident in this program, from the inmate to inmate, from staff to inmate and inmates to staff. Only Phase I, Group A received this assignment. However, the entire dorm should have had this specific assignment.
At our weekly Phase I, Group A meeting we learned that Counselor M would be getting married. She also took up our journal and assignment folders, so that she could read through them while she was away.
We (Phase I, Group A) were called to the Chaplain’s Office for a meeting for our community service projects. Several ideas were shared, and among them two were accepted by the majority: Writing Agape letters for troubled youth, and for abused women in shelters. As we prepared to close the meeting, the chaplain siad, “that if our visitors from the Department of Corrections asked about our community service projects, we were not to tell them we just started tonight.” After Bible study, when I reutrned to the dorm, I sought out the chaplain’s aide, and asked him about what the chaplain had told us to do in regards to any questions concerning our planning community service projects. He told me that he personally would do what was right in God’s eyes.
We met with Mr. H and Mr. K (from the Department of Corrections) today to take the COMPASS test (one of four tests we are to take). Mr. K administered the test, and is set to train Counselor M., and Counselor D. on how to enter our answers in the computer , for assessment of our answers.
I cannot help but wonder about the integrity of a program, when a man tranfers from another prison, straight into the program. In front of other men who had already submitted applications, and expressed a desire to be part of the program. This was the case with Stephon, because of the chaplain’s position in the program.
Today was rather difficult, at least the discovery of the results of the COMPASS questionaire. The secrecy of the first twenty-five questions, which Counselor M. answered from our institutional file. The results were disappointing. The majority of the questions are based on the past, and therefore do not consider my life now and who I am now in my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Today we took the TCUD test. It’s about our prior drug and alcohol use and/or abuse. I scored a six (I guess out of a possible ten), which tells them that I have a problem with drugs and alcohol. Of course I already knew this, and so the other guys of Phase I, Group A, who scored as well as I did.
Today in our weekly Phase I, Group A class meeting, which counselor D. substituted for Counselor M., we watched the movie, Bruce Almighty with Jim Carey. He gave us a worksheet on the movie beforehand. While in a small group setting, we examined the movie, rather than just watching it. I found myself being guilty (like Bruce) of treating God in the same disrespectful and irreverant ways, as if to say that I can do a better job than He does.
Counselor M. gave us (Phase I, Group A) the assignment of writing about “My Motivation for Change.” Jesus is the main motivating force for my change, the desire to be a better family member, and a productive community member, whether in prison or free. I thank God for the change in my heart, and the godly goals He has placed in my heart.
Bobby is back (he was locked up on lies and false disciplinary report), and I am happy that he is back. I only hope he is able to stay, as Chaplain M. removed Andrews from the program. If this is about forgiveness and community, where is the mercy and compassion? A lot of what I have seen and heard lately are in opposition to God’s word.
Yesterday (9-22-04) afternoon we met the Department of Corrections Commissioner. I was impressed (as were many men) with many things he expressed. The commissioner said, “the governor wants to redeem men to their families and society.” The commissioner is responsible for installing the “Faith and Character Program at six prisons in the Department of Corrections. He is a fellow believer of Jesus Christ. In my almost 10 years of incarceration this is the first attempt of a program which is aimed at rehabilitation of inmates through faith and character development.
I look forward to more in-depth character development classes, and spirituality classes. There have been many struggles and hindrances in this program so far. The prayer of the hour is for endurance and courage to continue to grow spiritually. No matter what happens! This program is faith based, but in essence it’s about self-improvement. I still have some problem areas to work on.
Bobby got locked up again today. In all of our time together in A-2 he never got locked up. The enemy (Satan) is at work trying to destroy this program before it really takes off. We have people in the dorm and program only because of who they work for, not because they are interested or desiring a change of character or building upon their faith. One the supposed requirement criteria, was to have at least a year left on your current sentence. But there are several individuals who have less than a year on their sentence. All because their detail supervisor wanted them in.
In twenty-two days my former wife, and dearly departed only love of my life, would have turned 37 years old. And as I am fast approaching my 40th birthday. The irony (blessing) of being incarcerated (which has resulted in my sobriety and drug free lifestyle), has prolonged my days. And the Hepatitis C, which took Kim, still lies in my body, ever waiting and destroying my liver. I cannot help but know God has preserved me for his good purpose.
It has been a fruitful morning! We had a group prayer meeting after the 8:00 am count. We actually had a circle around the entire television room. I hope and pray that this will be the starting point that unites us as one body in Christ. I thank God for drawing these men together.
Today we started “Motivation For Change” with Counselor D. We took a test that no one can possibly understand or pass. If you are not confused when you start, you will be when you finish. We (Group A) are now in Phase 2, and at the end of this quarter will be half way through the program. Some things are utterly amazing to me. The chaplains minute involvement and the cancelation of the first day of “Thinking for Change” class with him.
Today we had a Phase 2 Group A meeting with Counselor M. It turned into a planning meeting, where we planned to come up with ideas for a plan. Once we began planning, we planned to tell others about our plans. Even though we have not completed the plans we already planned, we plan on doing them at some point. Everyone agreed that planning was great fun and a terrific idea. Many plans were presented, and we plan to choose only the best plans during this planning meeting. Now that we have chosen our plans, we plan to seek permission to implement our plans. We do not plan on any opposition to them, but if there is we will have to make other plans. Everyone should have a plan. For God surely has a plan for everyone.
At 9:00 pm we are to have a “community meeting” in the dorm to discuss issues about the elevation of the noise level in the dorm. Before we got started, Chaplain M. entered the dorm and dominated much of the meeting, performing as expected. He said he “was getting complaints about the noise” (which was the result of the Miami-Louisville college football game between the hours of 9:00 pm and 11:20 pm) “in the dorm from the participants of the program.” The noise level was beyond normal as guys were picking at one another (screaming across the dorm), and actually got mad with one another. Chaplain M. all but gave them the green light by saying “it’s prison, you do not have to walk around on cotton.” He said that “those complaining were acting like a bunch of ladies.” To which a number of the guys responded, “tell the truth” and “preach it preacher.” For someone who is supposed to be a man of God, shepherd and leader for these guys in the program, we are sorely lacking in the spiritual leadership position.
Today during our Phase 2, Group A meeting with Counselor M., we once again discussed our plans for the community service project (a date was set for November 1st). I have seen the three “Faith and Character Program” Newsletters from three other prisons. So we suggested to Counselor M. that we wanted to have one. We were told by Counselor M. that the Deputy Warden of Care and Treatment had said, “no.” This was the result of Counselor M. asking before we did.
Today our Phase 2, Group A meeting was in the dorm. One thing became very obvious to me, some of our group of 12 men are content to let the rest of us work to execute our plans, while they enjoy a “free ride,” rather than put forth any effort at all. I thank God for his grace that is carrying me through this program.
Another thing has become obviously clear. If this program is to benefit us at all, the unity has to begin now. We’ll have to come together to make positive changes for ourselves and those who will come behind us: an example to others that a system which is manipulating (retarding) the progress can be overcome.
At 2:20 pm (forty minutes late) “Thinking for Change” was called and by 3:15 pm we were run out of the education building. The first two class sessions were cancelled, due to Chaplain M.’s absences.
Today Counselor M. substituted for Counselor D. in our “Motivation For Change” class. We worked on our problem behavior areas, a going public letter to someone (family), to tell them about a problem behavior we are stopping. We also worked on weekly, monthly, and yearly goals for changes we want to make in our lives.
I heard from Counselor M., that she had a meeting with Mr. P. (Kairos/Faith and Character Program Advisory Board Member) today, about the computer class he wants to teach.
We officially have the first ever “Faith and Character Program Football Team.” I took around a sign up sheet, and had those who wanted to play sign up. I submitted the list to Coach W., and he approved the team for play with the other intramural teams.
Kairos number 9 started today. I refereed the morning football game, and stayed on the out count, to help put up the banners and posters for Kairos. The Kairos Team volunteers came in around 2:00 pm and we unloaded the trucks and trailers. Helping the Kairos team volunteers gives me a special joy and peace.
Mr. N., our newest Kairos member/volunteer and now a “Faith and Character Program” volunteer. He brought in the movie The Passion of Christ (Mel Gibson). It was very descriptive in the beatings and corss scenes. It moved me in a powerful way that the words of the Gospels often do not match. Maybe because of its combination of the story and visual effects together. Jesus’ love for us is awesome. Mr.N. has such love for the Lord Jesus, which draws people to him. It is truly a blessing to be around him.
We had another excellent, but very short “Thinking For Change” class with the chaplain. It really was a thought provoking class. We just have not been spending enough time in this class. We discussed selective incoming information. This is the process that causes us to tune out messages or information in the communication process, if we do not want to hear.
I missed the first and only phase class meeting today. I hurt my knee in our football game this morning, and was laid up in the bed. Our team is good, and at this point undefeated. Rumor has it, that the computer class has the green light. We are also in the process of designing a “Faith and Character Program Newsletter,” although the exact details and working of the paper and the staffing have yet to be worked out.
I hear this and that about this program, and things are supposedly happening. Who knows? The physical evidence may not be present, but God has said, “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” I believe God will make a way!
Of course, once again we got a late start (2:25pm) for “Thinking For Change” class. The entire class was conveniently directed to the subject of the grievances filed against Chaplain M., by the chaplain rather than “Thinking for Change,” but actually I was practicing thinking for change by withholding my tongue. I now know why I had spent the morning worshipping, praying, and praising God. Chaplain M. named several individuals from Kairos, who were not present to defend themselves against his accusations. He also claimed the Kairos manual gave him the right to discriminate. He said, “his aides are his spies inside of Kairos, and also that Phase 2, Group A are his spies in the Faith and Character Dorm.” This was the second time an entire class we devoted to things besides the class itself. The first time was for his anti-Bush political views.
We are set to begin our community service project on 11-29-04, according to Counselor M., I eagerly look forward to this. David also tells me that the “Faith and Character Program Newsletter” will be going out in December. As I was contemplating the hurdles and stumbling blocks that have hindered progress in this program, it occurred to me that this journal may very well be a tool by which improvement can come. It has been one heel-dragging, trial endurance after another. I praise God for the strength to endure.
I thought that I wanted to be part of this program. I asked God about being in the program, and prayed if it was His will, I would be accepted. So, I thought my being accepted was my answer; lately I’ve begun to wonder if it was in fact his will. We had a choir practice (Faith and Character Program Caroling Group) this morning at 9:00 am. Counselor M. informed us that the computers (12) are here. All that’s left now is sign-ups and the new quarter to begin in January. God has indeed blessed us with this opportunity, and with Mr. P.. I pray to God that this is only the beginning of things to come for this progam.
Today we will be singing Christmas carols, as the state Christmas packages are handed out. It should be fun, but there is a certain amount of apprehension about how other inmates will react. We actually made up these packages, forming an assembly line to place the various treats and cosmetic items in the sacks (835). This is our second community service project (the first in the prison), the other being the packages of toys for children who would not be getting Christmas presents. Mr. N. bought all of the things needed for this project, and brought them to Counselor M. we wrapped the boxes in colored paper and personally decorated them with markers. Without the determination of Counselor M., to get this project’s approval from the administration, and the resources of Mr. N. (a man who loves the Lord and serving others). We could have never done this community service project. It was a lot of fun, but more importantly the giving back to others (less fortunate), what Christ has given to us, was an awesome experience! The computer class and three faith classes (all taught by volunteers) are set to start in January.
Yesterday was the second week in a row that “Thinking For Change” has been canceled. The chaplain has missed at least four classes so far, and many have been cut short because of his tardiness. We hardly begun this class, and it’s now referred to as “Will he show up for a change?” It’s a shame cause everyone likes the class. The chaplain has some thought provoking, insight-filled information that he shares from time to time. We are no longer having our weekly phase meetings. The powers that be, determined that Counselor M. should not meet with us. So not to disrupt the volunteer classes that are forthcoming. We could have met at a time when it would not conflict, rather than cancel the class. Counselor M. is giving us assignments and has wonderful ideas for projects to do.
This week I learned, after the rumors (that I have not heard), that Counselor M. is no longer counselor over the “Faith and Character Program.” I do not know why, but it must be true as Counselor D’s name now appears on my new OMS schedule. The third phase begins Monday, and we still have not seen the fruit of the library (that volunteers are willing to donate) in the dorm. From the initial meetings (before the program), we asked for additional table space. There are four tables in a dorm, which will seat four people. But not if they are writing, Bible studies, and legal work. We were told then that they (administration) would work on it. Nothing has been done after seven months.
The word is official (from the mouth of Counselor M.), that she has been removed. The reason she would not say, only this, “you know how things are here at this prison.” The general opinion is that it was because of her effort (along with Mr. P.) to get the computers into the program for us. The classes have begun, and there is a lot of excitement and hope for them.
We had three weeks in the computer class, and it has given me something to look forward to, not just me though. Many of the guys eagerly anticipate computer class. We downloaded Microsoft Office XP 2003, and a few other programs. I even had the pleasure of helping some of my brothers installing these programs. Mr. P. said, “he had brought two book cases and several bags of books for the library in our dorm.” I wonder how long it will take to get the library set up? We have had some positive happenings since the first of the year, even though one half of the program is complete. I hope this is a sign of better things to come.
It’s been almost two months since I last wrote here. Many reasons (or excuses) are the result of my struggles within, and the negative influences on this program. One being that Counselor M. was the inspiration for doing these journals, and the fact that she was removed, it’s just not the same! Counselor D. is busy with training, and rarely comes to the dorm. Three weeks ago at our “Thinking for Change” class, I did a thinking report on the situation concerning the book cases and books, which we still do not have. Chaplain M. expertlydirected the conversation away from this issue, and to the computer class, as if to say, “You have a computer class, what else do you want?” So I asked, what would happen if we were not finished with the computer class, when our time is up? And he sais, “I guess you’ll be up the creek without a paddle.” We never really know when the chaplain will show up for this class. We have missed at least half of these classes (Thinking for Change) because of his absence. In two quarters, we have reached only the eighth lesson.
Tonight at Kairos, David was called into the Chaplain’s office during Kairos for an inquisition concerning the proposal asking Warden B. to approve the donated items for the program. Chaplain M. is not a “happy camper,” according to David. I’ve just been confronted by Wade concerning this proposal. It’s funny how fear persuades people not to take a stand when a cause is right, and just in the eyes of God. Many have taken sides against one another, and the program. In favor of the administration, that is clearly opposing favorable progress.
The lies and rumors are running wild today. Dennis, Kendrick, Ferdinand and other laughing and joking because supposedly those who signed the proposal were going to be put out of this program. The dorm is divided into groups. Those who are against the proposal, those who do not have a clue, and those who have lost hope. It was obvious from Chaplain M’s childish and fleshly display, that there is a strong current of disdain and animosity against those who are seeking positive progress and change. He did not come to discuss the proposal, but to vent his feelings on us. His remarks, “that we were acting juvenile and asinine,” and “we are still thinking like criminals and that’s why we are still in prison.” He then abruptly left the dorm, turning his back on one and all.
Some four months since I last wrote here. I have returned to this journal, in hopes of benefitting others who will come into this program. It has been a long, often rocky adventure in this “Faith and Character Program.” Trials have been many and the hurdles high. Many things have transpired which I have unfortunately not recorded. I will diligently seek to put them in perspective now, in hopes of better understanding myself, what this whole year was really about. The proposals went forth, one to Warden B., and two went to different sources at the Department of Corrections office. Shortly there after Ms. H. came down for a visit, and a date was set for the “Open House Ceremony” of the “Faith and Character Program” at this prison. This was about two weeks before the actual date of April 28, 2005. At this time the chaplain, Counselor D. and whoever layed out some rather lofty and elaborate plans for the “Open House Ceremony.” Shortly after this Counselor D. posted a memo soliciting ideas for a mural for the “Faith and Character Dorm.” I began to put some ideas on paper, and so did John. After they were submitted Counselor D. took them around to the guys in the dorm, and asked which one they liked. My design was chosen, and so began the long and hard taks of painting it on the wall of the dorm. Bufford wrote a play titled Diamonds in the Rough, complemented with props and music that was performed by the men of this program. The guys spent a lot of time rehearsing and perfecting their parts. Bufford had to reduce the length of the play to 10 to 15 minutes. So he divided it into four acts, and act four was the one selected for the “Open House Ceremony.” A sailboat was made from popsicle sticks, dowel rods, and sails made of cloth, that had the commissioners’ military unit painted on them. This was made by Gerald. All of the Arts and Crafts supplies were provided by Coach F. (Mental Health Activity Therapist). So for several weeks men were busily preparing for the “big show”. As the “open house” day nears there is much anticipation of the festivities, and the visitation of the commissioner and other administrative officials from the Department of Corrections.
An emergency lock down count is called on April 26, 2005, two days before the “Open House Ceremony.” As I returned from the laundry for this count. I see the maintenance men bringing in the bookcases for our library. The same book cases which have been up in the Deputy Warden of Care and Treatments’ office for three months now. Funny that we have been asking about these for months, to no avail. But, when supervisors from the Department of Corrections are coming here for the “Open House.” Shazam, all kinds of things get done.
The chaplain announces at “Thinking For Change” today, that this class is officially over, incomplete as it is because of all his absences. He then tells us how he will teach another class (Confronting Self) in the fourth and final phase of this program.
The “Open House Ceremony” was an eye opening success, from the perspective of Department of Corrections officials and some inmates. From certain perspectives, it certainly was, because it proves when men desire to work together in unity. They can achieve positive results and success. Some have clearly missed the big picture, because of the “big show.” The big picture being, for nearly six months. Nothing happened in terms of volunteer program classes. Because they were on the sideline and never activated for participation in the program. The play (skit) was awesome, the singing good, and the overallaffect was dazzling as expected. Ms. H. commended everyone on a wonderful display of talent. She says, “I was worried about problems in the program, and that the “Faith and Character Program” had not taken off at this prison.” The general consensus about her remarks, is that the proposals reached the desired destination. The chaplain praises everyone. He says, “I don’t make promises, but you men have my word. I am going to look out for you!” After the ceremony there was a tour of the dorm and the mural presentation. While the mural reflects my hopes and desires for this program. It is aptly titled, “Pioneering on the Path to Success.” It does not reflect the many struggles, hinderances, or adversity that has prevailed throughout this inaugural year of the “Faith and Character Program.”
It was about this time that God revealed to me a wonderful truth. I thought I had good and nobel reasons for getting into the program. Mainly to get closer to God and grow spiritually. I felt that because of the negative aspects of the program, my goals (getting closer to God, and growing spiritually) were being obstructed. God revealed to me that I did not need a program to get closer to him. Also that all of my spiritual and character growth is dependent on Him, His Holy Spirit, and the Word of God.
Several of the guys asked the chaplain, “would we be able to get a certificate for “Thinking for Change.” He said, “Yes.” But, we have not received one as of now. There were never any further worksheets handed out, after the “Responsibility” worksheet. Counselor D. met with us (Group A, Phase 4), during our computer class. He passed out assignments on “The Separation of Church and State” as well as assignments for life plans on “Faith” and “Health and Fitness.” He tells us he will get with us in a couple of weeks. These assignments are issued with only a matter of weeks until we (Group A, Phase 4) graduate.
I have diligently put forth every effort to better myself, and be a true pioneer in this inaugural year of the “Faith and Character Program.” In spite of my fleshly desires and emotions, and the discouragement and adversity. To stay focused, and ever hoping to bring about positive change that will benefit those who come behind me, in this program. It has not been easy, and to my own fault I have struggled spiritually, and often have been distant from God. At this time, I am seeking to reestablish my personal relationship with God.
From the beginning (prior to the start of this program) we had several meetings with the chaplain, the Deputy Warden of Care and Treatment, the former head counselor over the program, and the chief counselor. We were given a program agenda hand-out, which presented various components of the program, in what phases they would take place… After viewing these agenda hand-outs, many were convinced that there was a definite plan for rehabilitation, educational, and self-improvement or character development. So many signed contracts in hopeful expectation of these attributes of the program. Most of these classes never materialized, although we (Group A, Phase 4) did complete Motivation For Change and Prime For Life.
Reflecting on the attitude of the prison population, officers (including the brass) and staff. Most generally hoped that we would fail, and when certain participants in the program failed. We were subjected to derogatory comments from one and all. At times they were directed at the program in general, and at other times at individuals in the program.
This whole year has been one of the most influential of my four year walk with the Lord, since I rededicated my like to Him on November 3, 2001. It has been a major trial of patience, perseverance, and because of the grace of God. I have learned and grown in ways I never would have, had I not been part of this pilot program. There are blessings to be found in the trials of life, which apart from God is grace, we may never know or understand.
As of now the program is over for the eleven other men and myself, who made up Group A. Our graduation is tentatively scheduled for July 21, 2005. The Diamonds in the Rough play will be performed again, this in its entirety.
We have lost several guys during the course of this year, some to transfer, parole, finished sentences, disciplinary actions (some undeserved). Bobby was transferred; he did nothing wrong. He got caught up in another man’s mess. Of the original fifty men selected, there are thirty-four left. Several of these have not participated in the spiritual classes, had nothing to do with the community service projects, quit classes, and failed to successfully complete “Prime for Life” because of the poor attendance. There has been very little accountability in the attendance of the volunteer classes. I thank God for the opportunity to participate, and for sending the volunteers to teach these classes.
I was asked by Mr. P. to help him in the computer class. Of course I was elated and readily accepted his offer. Although it still has to be approved by the Deputy Warden of Care and Treatment. Group, Phase 4 started computer class this week, and I have been officially added to their group as an aide. They only have three months to learn, what we had six months to learn. It will be a task working with some of these men, as they read poorly. This is a blessing to be able to help others, and learn more myself.
Our graduation ceremony is this week, and my parents are being sent an invitation to the graduation, although they will not be able to come. My dad broke his leg in three places about twelve weeks ago, and has just returned to work.
Graduation is less than a week away. We are still in the dark about where we will be moving to. We were told (in writing and verbally) that we could move anywhere, stay on A and B yard, or gain a positive transfer closer to home. Some guys are more than ready to leave this dorm, no matter where they have to move. While others are concerned about where they go. My original plan was to transfer closer to home, because I have not seen them since October 1995. With my new computer aide privilege, and out of respect for Mr. P. choosing me. My positive transfer is on hold.
As I think about the assignment issued by Counselor D. on “The Separation of Church and State,” there can be no doubt, it is clearly seen in this program. When we started this program, it was called “The Faith Based Program.” To be politically correct it was renamed “The Faith and Character Program.” So the proverbial line was drawn; the volunteers taught spiritual classes, and state employees taught self-improvement or character development (building) classes. The chaplain did not teach a single class on religion or spiritual growth. Some staff at times have been drawn, because of their personal faith in God, to effect positive change. However because of the gulf of separation between church and state, and what administrative policy outlines. They do only the required minimum, rather than operating on biblical principles (obeying God rather than men, or going the extra mile.) Because of these principles Counselor M. is no longer with the program. It’s truly a shame, because her heart was in the right place, and she was doing her best to make the program a success for us and those who will come after us.
I am thankful and happy for this opportunity to be part of this program. In spite of all the difficult times and people. Unfortunately we have not grown in a positive manner towards our unity. It’s a shame, but when you have half-hearted commitment to a central goal, and each other. Then unity as a priority, and an effective tool for positive change is never accomplished. On a personal level it has been a chance to bond with some men who are sincere in their commitment to God, and each other. To become more aware of my own misconceptions and perceived ideas, which contribute to the gulf between others and myself.
The graduation ceremony started a few minutes after 10:00 am, and continued through 1:00 pm. We had the traditional cap and gown dress, and were seated on the front row. As I entered I saw a television news crew and camera set up. The Diamonds in the Rough play was a huge success, and there were different parts of the play aired on the evening news. There was a luncheon provided after the ceremonies, at which the graduates and their families were blessed to eat lunch together. I missed having my parents with me. I had my meal with two graduates and Mr. N. (a volunteer in the program.)
I was originally very positive in hopes of what benefits the program would offer. I may have naively looked for the state to do too much. But, in the end it has been well worth it. The opportunity to do something different, new, and to leave positive accomplishments. To set a standard (goal) for others to reach and eclipse. Such as the play (Diamonds in the Rough) the “Toys for Children” at Christmas, the Christmas caroling here at this prison, the computer class, the “The Faith and Character Newsletter,” and the mural I painted in the dorm. While I have not agreed with many things which have or have not transpired. It has truly been a time of self-examination, learning and growing for myself. In spite of the negative factors, I can honestly say. This program in and of itself is very good. An individual can use the program as a tool for unimagined change and growth, both spiritually and personally. The overall effect of the community service projects, the Diamonds in the Rough play, and the “Faith and Character Program Newsletter.” May well have opened the eyes of those who can bring about positive changes, and opportunities for the future “Faith and Character Program” participants. God has brought this program into existence out of nothing, and placed godly men in positions to incorporate this program into the Department of Corrections. It is often hard to measure successfulness, when the end or future is unknown. In my opinion and in my heart, I feel we have made positive progress, at both personal and corporate levels. Ultimately God is in control. I hope and pray that he will touch the hearts of the staff, volunteers, and participants, to write unite corporately to build on this program. For those here now and those future participants. Also to ensure that this wonderful force is not relegated to a farce.