What a night!
October 18, 2019
Guests packed the room at St. Patrick's Church in Grand Haven last night to welcome author Alex Kotlowitz
to West Michigan. Alex spoke about sharing the stories of those forgotten by society, and the lessons he's
learned along the way.
In addition, HFP made two major announcements. We introduced the Sweet Freedom Legacy Circle, a
planned giving program that will help ensure the work of HFP continues on for years to come. Also,
long-time supporters Peter and Judy VanderArk were honored with the Maurice H. Carter Humanitarian
Award given to our volunteers of the year!
We thank everyone who came out to this special evening! A special thanks also to our friend Bill Klouw for
taking the pictures from the night's events.
See you tonight!
October 17, 2019
It's our biggest event of the year, and everyone here at Humanity for Prisoners invites you to join us as we welcome Alex Kotlowitz to town. The doors open at 6:30 at St. Patrick-St.Anthony Parish on the corner of Fulton and US 31 in Grand Haven, with the event starting at 7.
Says Alex: "There's something exhilarating about telling stories that haven't been shared before and haven't been told publicly before. The last thing I want to be doing is telling stories other people have already told."
Come hear the stories tonight. If you don't have a ticket, they will be available at the door. We look forward to seeing you there!
Forgive this week
October 14, 2019
“In a nation that likes to see itself as forgiving, we are mulishly unforgiving of those who have committed a felony...”
― Alex Kotlowitz
October 13, 2019
"Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends."
HFP Blog: HFP client Joe Johnson’s Public Hearing before the Michigan Parole Board went quite well Thursday. Doug, Matt and Holly were there to support him. At the end, though, the Assistant Attorney General tried to rain on the parade. Read Doug comments HERE.
Innocence Project Leader Added to HFP Board
October 9. 2019
Marla Mitchell-Cichon, Director of the WMU-Cooley Innocence Project in Lansing, has been appointed to a three-year term on the Humanity for Prisoners Board of Directors. The announcement was made today by board chairman Russ Bloem.
Professor Mitchell-Cichon began her teaching career in 1986 at the University of Akron, and joined WMU-Cooley Law School in
The WMU-Cooley Innocence Project is one of two such projects in the state. It works to free innocent Michigan prisoners through
the use of DNA testing. In 2006, Professor Mitchell-Cichon received the Justice for All Award from the Criminal Defense Attorneys
of Michigan (CDAM) and in 2014 the WMU-Cooley Innocence Project received the Outstanding Community Contribution award from the WMU-Cooley Student Bar Association.
Professor Mitchell-Cichon works closely with the Access to Justice Clinic (Grand Rapids campus), a clinic she helped to develop. She has extensive practice experience in criminal and poverty law. Her litigation experience includes cases before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, the Ohio Supreme Court, the Michigan Supreme Court and trial and appellate courts in both Ohio and Michigan. She also works on legislative reform to improve the criminal justice system.
“It’s interesting to note,” said Bloem, “that HFP’s roots are in a wrongful conviction. It was our founder, Doug Tjapkes’ work to free Maurice Carter, an innocent Michigan prisoner, that led to the establishment of this organization. With Marla’s expertise and experience, her input to our board and our daily operations will be exceptional.”
Humanity for Prisoners is a prisoner advocacy agency based in Spring Lake.
Let go this week
October 7, 2019
"Learn this from me. Holding anger is a poison. It eats you from inside. We think that hating is a weapon that attacks the person who harmed us. But hatred is a curved blade. And the harm we do, we do to ourselves."
HFP Blog: The Maurice Carter story was told in a new and exciting venue over the weekend! Read Doug’s comments this morning HERE.
"Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools."
Play about HFP founders goes to Atlanta!
October 2, 2019
Today is International Wrongful Conviction Day. In conjunction with that, we are pleased to announce that a staged reading of the play JUSTICE FOR MAURICE HENRY CARTER will be presented in Atlanta this week.
The performance is part of the Atlanta Black Theatre Festival’s Staged Reading Series. The play, by Canadians Donald Molnar and Alicia Payne, is based on the true story of the enduring friendship between the wrongly convicted Maurice Carter who spent 29 years in prison, and his friend Doug Tjapkes, of Spring Lake.
The playwrights are from Toronto, and the host of the performance in is Nadia Theodor, the Consul General of Canada in Atlanta.
Doug is the founder of Humanity for Prisoners, a prisoner advocacy agency based in Spring Lake. He will be an honored guest at the performance in Atlanta, and will participate in an audience feed-back following the presentation.
HFP sets new record!
October 1, 2019
The month of September brought a record number of requests for assistance to the Humanity for Prisoners office. A total of 990 requests came in, breaking the previous record (set in August) of 949. Before August, the most requests HFP had ever received in a month was 710.
"I think it's safe to say the secret is out," HFP President Matt Tjapkes said. "It's a continued testament to the work we're doing, including all the help from staff and our expert panel of volunteers."
HFP is also just 30 requests away from setting a new mark for most contacts in a year. We thank all of you for your continued support as we touch a record number of lives each month!
HFP Blog: One of the nation’s finest athletes has taken a year off to help a wrongly convicted friend. A major story on network news these days. Friends of HFP are drawing parallels between that story and the Maurice Carter/Doug Tjapkes saga. As we approach International Wrongful Conviction Day, Doug shares his thoughts HERE.
Starting "Wrongful Conviction Day" week
September 30, 2019
International Wrongful Conviction Day arrives this week Wednesday, October 2. Says Bryan Stevenson, author of JUST MERCY:
"I don't think there's been a time in American history with more innocent people in prison."
September 29, 2019
"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen."
HFP Blog: Whistleblowers
September 27, 2019
A lot of discussion these days about whistleblowers. Doug says we would do well to listen. Read today's entry HERE.
Start your legacy this week
September 16, 2019
“The things you do for yourself are gone when you are gone, but the things you do for others remain as your legacy.”
― Kalu Ndukwe Kalu
September 15, 2019
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."
Philippians 4:6 6
Alex Kotlowitz Tickets on Sale!
September 11, 2019
Humanity for Prisoners is thrilled to welcome best-selling author Alex Kotlowitz to West Michigan to raise awareness of issues within our criminal justice system and to highlight the important work of our organization. Kotlowtiz's appearance will be Thursday, October 17 at 7 p.m. at Lakeshore Middle School, 900 Cutler St. Grand Haven.
Kotlowitz, author of "There Are No Children Here," "The Other Side of the River," "Never a City So Real," and "American Summer," was a friend of the late Maurice Carter, and readily accepted HFP’s invitation! He has a personal interest in prisons. In 2016 he worked with inmates of Illinois’ Stateville Prison writing essays about their lives in cells, now featured in the podcast "Written Inside."
If you are interested in being a sponsor for the event, including having dinner with Alex beforehand, you can find details on sponsorship HERE. Tickets for the event are $25 in advance, $15 for students and $30 at the door. Tickets are available at The Bookman in Grand Haven (715 Washington Ave.) or online HERE.
We are excited to work with The Bookman to provide this exciting and important community event. We look forward to seeing you there!
Stand in awe this week
September 9, 2019
“What we need in the world is a compassion that stands in awe at the burdens the poor have to carry rather than stand in judgment at the way they carry them."
Fr Greg Boyle
HFP Blog: For those who did not see the two Lester Holt specials on mass incarceration over the weekend, please take the time to watch both programs. Of particular importance was the Sunday night town-forum at Sing Sing Prison on MSNBC. Then, related to what Holt describes as “An American Crisis,” we suggest you read our weekend entry HERE.
September 8, 2019
“But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear their threats ; do not be frightened.”
I Peter 3:14
A profile of HFP at work, all within one week!
September 6, 2019
HFP Client Eddie: "I have a friend named Bob. He has terminal cancer and could use a visit if at all possible. He used to be my bunkie. It appears to me that he is going downhill rather rapidly. He could use a ray of light, and let’s face it. That is what you are!"
HFP Medical Director, Dr. Bob Bulten: "I've penciled him in for a visit tomorrow afternoon."
Dr Bulten the next day: "I had a wonderful visit with Bob this afternoon. He was told 2 weeks ago that he has CA of the lung, liver, and gall bladder, that there is no treatment for that. He teared up a few times as he told me, but he’s not bitter and relies on his faith to get him through this."
New HFP client Bob: "I had a couple of hours with Dr. Bob and after 15 minutes it seemed I had known him forever. To say I am devastated is an understatement. I have been ready to meet my maker and have been for years but when you are smacked in the face with this type of news it still rocks ya. 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."
HFP President, Medical Director to Speak in Spring Lake
September 4, 2019
Humanity for Prisoners President Matt Tjapkes will be joined by volunteer Medical Director Dr. Robert Bulten for a special presentation Spring Lake District Library on Thursday, Sept. 12 at 7:00 pm.
The presentation will start with an introduction to HFP, including a brief video, before the topic turns to health care in the Michigan Department of Corrections. Tjapkes and Bulten will also be joined by a former client of Humanity for Prisoners who struggled with health care before receiving assistance from HFP. The presentation will conclude with a Q&A session with attendees.
Humanity for Prisoners, with offices in Spring Lake, is a 501 c 3 non-profit organization that works one-on-one with inmates in the MDOC to help them resolve non-legal matters they face while incarcerated. HFP has worked with over 3,000 inmates in the MDOC and this year alone has handled over 5,800 requests for assistance.
Uplift Humanity this Labor Day Week
September 2, 2019
"All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity."
— Martin Luther King, Jr.
September 1, 2019
"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters."
HFP turns 18!
August 29, 2019
Former Grand Haven broadcaster Doug Tjapkes and his former corporate attorney John Carlyle sat down in 2001 to develop an agency that might be able to help prisoners. Today we celebrate the formation of what is now known as Humanity for Prisoners! Read more HERE.
HFP Blog: Some thoughts on those who have no one to pray for them
August 27, 2019
The singing group founded by Doug 47 years ago sang its last song Sunday. But there’s a link between the work of HIS MEN and HFP. See today’s blog entry HERE.
Do what you think you can't this week
August 26, 2019
“We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face...we must do that which we think we cannot."
August 25, 2019
"But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint."
Find your place this week
August 19, 2019
"The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's hunger meet."
― Frederick Buechner
August 18, 2019
"He saves the needy from the sword in their mouth; he saves them from the clutches of the powerful. So the poor have hope, and injustice shuts its mouth."
HFP receives financial support from prisoners!
August 14, 2019
Humanity for Pirsoners has received a $2,000 grant from the Prisoner Benefit Fund of G. Robert Cotton Correctional Facility in Jackson! Prisoner Benefit Funds (PBFs) may be used to fund services, equipment, and supplies which have a direct benefit to prisoners. Each Michigan prison has its own PBF, administered by a special committee made up of prisoner representatives and staff members. Much of the money in the fund comes from prison store sales and prison vending machines.
“In that committees generally allocate these funds toward purchases of items such as recreational equipment and microwave ovens, we consider a contribution from a PBF as the ultimate compliment for services we provide,” said HFP President Matt Tjapkes.
Build this week
August 12, 2019
"Great anger and violence can never build a nation."
HFP Blog: Will the Epstein death behind bars focus attention on a bigger problem? We hope so, but don’t bet on it! See Doug’s post today HERE.
August 11, 2019
"Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God."
August 9, 2019
Two Michigan prisoners have made a difference, in a big way! Check out Doug’s blog HERE.
A profile of HFP assistance
August 7, 2019
Client's wife contacts HFP
“Jeff has a growth on the top of his right ear. It has grown in size substantially over the last 6 months and I worry that it could be something serious.”
Same day response from HFP Medical Director:
“It probably is a broken blood vessel. I doubt that it is anything serious.”
Two days later, Dr. Bob makes a personal visit to the client:
“Stopped in to see Jeff. The thing on his ear is most likely a cyst. I reassured him, and Health Care is actually following it.”
Four days later, from client's wife:
“Jeff and I are so grateful that Dr Bob came out to check Jeff's ear and visit with him. Dr Bob also got Jeff a burger and drink which was an extra treat. We are relieved that it is nothing more serious. Thank you so much to you and Dr Bob for getting Jeff checked out and giving us some relief."
HFP Blog: Talk or action?
August 6, 2019
Whether it’s prisoner issues or mass shootings, there’s always a lot of talk, seldom a lot of action. See Doug’s comments HERE.
Show civility this week
August 5, 2019
"Civility is not not saying negative or harsh things. It is not the absence of critical analysis. It is the manner in which we are sharing this territorial freedom of political discussion. If our discourse is yelled and screamed and interrupted and patronized, that's uncivil."
August 4, 2019
"Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor."
HFP Blog: David vs. Goliath
August 2, 2019
Several years ago, HFP worked with a group of Prisoner Observer Aides at Huron Valley who were witnessing serious abuse of mentally ill prisoners. Thanks to the efforts of these courageous women, led by inmate Sharee Miller, the U.S. Department of Justice eventually came to Ypsilanti to investigate these problems. The downside was that Sharee lost her job as a POA over this. The Department was not pleased. Today’s entry on our blog site tells of her recent victory to not only get her job back, but to allow observers to tell others about the bad things they witness. We invite you, first, to read Paul Egan’s fine reporting of this story:
Then we suggest you to read our blog entry, loosely based on the David and Goliath story of I Timothy 17:
HFP Blog: Time for FOIA law change!
July 31, 2019
Day after day, week after week, HFP does its best to help prisoners retrieve important files that are available to the public under the Freedom of Information Act. Why? Because Michigan won’t let inmates do it on their own! HERE is our blog entry today, and it won’t be our last!
Michigan PB gets a C-
July 30, 2019
The MDOC’s parole process ranked slightly worse than average in a nationwide comparison. The research was done by Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants (CURE). CURE gave grades to all states that have parole based on 18 different factors…crime-reducing policies that CURE felt that parole decisions should be based on. Michigan’s parole process received a C-. Said CURE:The “nature of the crime” or “seriousness of the offense” should not be the reason for parole denial.
Live this week with love and kindness
July 29, 2019
“Love and kindness are never wasted. They always make a difference. They bless the one who receives them, and they bless you, the giver.”
– Barbara De Angelis
July 28, 2019
"Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves."
HFP Founders play to be performed
July 26, 2019
The Atlanta Black Theatre Festival has scheduled a stage reading for JUSTICE FOR MAURICE HENRY CARTER.
That exciting news comes to us from Donald Molnar and Alicia Payne, award-winning playwrights who penned
the story of HFP founders Maurice Carter and Doug Tjapkes. We’re told that the stage presentation is scheduled
for Friday, October 4, at 3 PM in Atlanta’s Porter Sanford III Performing Arts Center. For those who will be in the
area at that time, tickets are $7.50, and hotel discounts are available for festival participants. HFP client DJ
Montney created the artwork for the striking postcard announcement.
July 24th - An important day to HFP!
July 24, 2019
July 24th is a special day here at HFP. Founder Doug Tjapkes shares his thoughts in today's blog HERE.
Starting the Week with Kindness
July 22, 2019
"Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough."
Franklin D. Roosevelt
July 21, 2019
"Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you."
Start the Week with Courage
July 15, 2019
“True courage is cool and calm. The bravest of men have the least of a brutal, bullying insolence, and in the very time of danger are found the most serene and free.”
Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury
July 14, 2019
"For whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it."
1 Peter 3:10-11
HFP Blog: What kind of gospel is that?
July 12, 2019
So, where should the church be In all of these social controversies? Should the church take a stand, or should the church stay out of it? Read Doug’s thoughts in today’s blog entry HERE.
330 Lives Touched by You!
July 10, 2019
The first half of 2019 saw HFP break records again for the number clients served. HFP's Client Services Specialist Susie Greenbauer reports that through June 30, HFP has helped 330 new clients this year, in addition to the 2,000+ on our active list. In February, HFP set a new monthly record with 710 requests for assistance.
Your support is making a difference in these lives! Clients are getting medical assistance, much-needed legal documents, connecting with lost friends and family and much more, all thanks to your partnership with HFP.
HFP Blog: Black & White = Red?
July 9, 2019
Did a weekend TV interview with Bryan Stevenson stir your emotions? Read how it affected Doug HERE.
Starting the Week with Humility
July 8, 2019
"I believe the first test of a truly great man is in his humility."
HFP Blog: How much money did you spend on your 4th of July picnic? Let’s compare that with how much the State of Michigan spends on 3 meals a day for our prisoners HERE.
July 7, 2019
"Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."
Happy Independence Day from HFP
July 4, 2019
“God did not burden the United States with a diversity of backgrounds, ideals and religions, he BLESSED America with them… and we in our diversity and differences are all in this together.”
~ Rep. Emanuel Cleaver
HFP Blog: No opinions on this Fourth of July…just some ideas for serious thinking! Read the latest entry HERE.
Show allegiance this week
July 1, 2019
“Our country is not the only thing to which we owe our allegiance. It is also owed to justice and to humanity. Patriotism consists not in waving the flag, but in striving that our country shall be righteous as well as strong."
June 30, 2019
“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
HFP Blog: When non-religious organizations do work that is Christ-like. Some thoughts from HFP founder Doug Tjapkes HERE.
NLA rally this fall
June 28, 2019
The National Lifers of America, Inc., in conjunction with other organizations, is sponsoring a Rally for Lifer Law, Prison and Criminal justice Reform at the State Capitol on Thursday October 10, 2019, from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM.
The Michigan the prison system is undergirded by a thirty-year era of get tough on crime and offenders policies that have fostered high recidivism rates, overcrowded prisons, and a 2 billion annual corrections budget. Now is the time for Michigan citizens to let their voices be heard. We can make changes and there is power in numbers. So please come join us as we share with lawmakers sensible and safe solutions to prison and criminal justice reform.
A decent and free society, founded in respect for the individual, ought not run a prison system with a sign at the entrance for inmates saying, "Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Enter Here."
If you would like to register to participate in the Rally, want to volunteer, make a donation, or be a speaker at the rally, please call 586-741-1918.
Donations cane be made to:
F.I.N.D., Inc. c/o NLA Rally
P.0. Box 37872, Oak Park, MI 48235
Pure Word Community Development, c/o NLA Rally
20011 Grand River, Detroit, MI 48219
Bus and/or Van Seating is Limited. Please call for seat reservations before September 9, 2019.
Starting the Week with Mark Hatfield
June 24, 2019
“We stand by as children starve by the millions because we lack the will to end hunger. But we have found the will to develop missiles capable of flying over the polar cap and landing within a few hundred feet of their target. This is not innovation. It is a profound distortion of humanity’s purpose on earth.”
~ Senator Mark Hatfield
June 23, 2019
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God."
HFP Blog on False Confessions
June 21, 2019
The President’s stance on false confessions isn’t helping our cause, says Doug. Read the latest blog entry HERE.
Stand tall this week
June 17, 2019
"No man stands taller than when he stoops to help a child."
- Abraham Lincoln
Father's Day Verse
June 16, 2019
"The righteous man walks with integrity; blessed are his children after him."
June 10, 2019
"Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough."
-Franklin D. Roosevelt
June 9, 2019
"Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver."
2 Corinthians 9:7
HFP Blog: "Jesus hovers above your door"
June 7, 2019
Our good friend Mitch Mackay, elderly and ailing, was unable to make the trip downstate from Each Jordan this week. But he had this to say about our open house event: "I have already been there in my mind’s eye, stood in awe at the transfiguration, the compassion, the instilling of empathy for all regardless cost and funding. Jesus hovers above your door."
And that led to our newest post HERE.
Thanks for visiting!
June 6, 2019
Humanity for Prisoners welcomed dozens of guests to our new office over the last two days, and we want to say
thank you for all who were able to make it out! It was a wonderful opportunity for us to share not only the new
office, but to give our supporters an idea of where the organization is headed and what everyone can do to help
us get there!
If you were unable to make the event but still want to check out the office some time, just email Matt at
firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call, we'll be happy to give out a personal tour!
Our special thanks to Bill Klouw for taking some pictures for us as well, including the picture above. Watch our
Facebook page for more pictures in the days to come.
HFP Blog: Welcome!
June 4, 2019
We welcome you to our new digs, and love to tell our story! See Doug’s blog today HERE.
Recognize Humanity this Week
June 3, 2019
"All of our humanity is dependent upon recognizing the humanity in others."
June 2, 2019
"Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me."
HFP helps prisoners “give back”
May 29, 2019
Humanity for Prisoners has received a special “thank you” from a group of prisoners at the Macomb Correctional Facility in New Haven. A delightful assortment of crocheted stuffed animals arrived from members of the Teddy Bear Project.
Ellen Pach, sponsor of the project, said that gift was to especially thank HFP Board Member Judy
VanderArk, and her husband Pete, who have coordinated our yarn project for years. They work with
volunteers to collect unused spools of yarn from a carpet factory, and then see that it gets delivered
to various state prisons. Thousands of pounds of yarn, valued at thousands of dollars, have been
delivered to prison hobby-craft programs over the years.
Said Ms. Pach: “We currently have approximately 15 prisoners who sew and crochet every Thursday
afternoon. We create children’s blankets & quilts, hats & scarves, and stuffed animals. The items are
then delivered to many organizations such as: Detroit Rescue Mission, Beaumont Hospital, Turning
Point Shelter, Children’s Hospital, first responders, and a camp for children affected by AIDS. Our men take great pride in their work and are very grateful to be able to ‘give back.’”
Ms. Pach said the program continues thanks to donations like that of HFP.
HFP Blog: Governor Whitmer recently signed a series of bills that will help elderly and ailing prisoners get a parole. Did HFP have anything to do with that? Some think so. See today’s post HERE.
Starting the Week with Gratitude
May 27, 2019
"Ceremonies are important. But our gratitude has to be more than visits to the troops, and once-a-year Memorial Day ceremonies. We honor the dead best by treating the living well."
Jennifer M. Granholm
HFP Blog: There are more than 2,200 military veterans in the Michigan prison system. HFP pays tribute to those vets today, as well as the MDOC. Read the latest entry HERE.
May 26, 2019
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."
Open House June 5th
May 15, 2019
Humanity for Prisoners welcomes everyone to come check out our new office on Wednesday, June 5th, from 5 to 7 p.m. Our office is located at 14998 Cleveland St., Unit D, in Spring Lake.
This Open House is for anyone and everyone who is interested in the work of HFP. We'll have refreshments, and you'll have a chance to meet the staff and tour our new work space.
Please mark your calendars! We look forward to seeing you there.
Thanking Mom this week
May 13, 2019
"All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother."
May 12, 2019
Mother's Day Verse
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
HFP Blog: Mother’s Day isn’t the happiest day behind bars. See today’s blog HERE.
Blessing the new building!
May 10, 2019
At a recent dedication of our new office building, the Board of Directors offered this prayer:
God of the forgotten, we pray that you will make this a space where people are remembered.
God of hope, we pray that you will make this space a light for those waiting in the darkness of
despair. God of justice, make this space a reservoir of restoration for those who have been
God of power and might, protect those who labor here for justice. Encourage them in the face
of indifference and injustice. Remind them that even when the wrong seems oft so strong, you
are the ruler yet.
We dedicate this space to the coming of your perfect kingdom. We commit this space toward
the day when justice rolls on like a river, and righteousness like a never-failing stream. May
compassion flow from this space into every prison cell, into the heart of every prisoner and
prison staff member.
Come and fill this space for your glory and for the restoration of your world. Bring provision, wisdom, courage, energy, and love, which binds them all together perfectly.
We pray this in the name of the one who was wrongly convicted and yet conquered injustice.
Our thanks to Rev. Nate Visker of Ferrysburg Community Church, who wrote this prayer!
Do something this week
May 6, 2019
Do something this week
"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, Dream, Discover.”
– Mark Twain
May 5, 2019
"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."
HFP Blog: Joe wasn’t happy with us, but even then, we’ll be here for him! Read the latest entry HERE.
Local Media Highlights HFP
April 30, 2019
Two local media outlets have taken notice of HFP's recent move to name Matt Tjapkes as President and CEO.
The Grand Haven Tribune posted THIS article on Saturday about HFP's recent announcement. Our thanks to the Tribune for their continued coverage of HFP's work!
Also, this morning, WGHN Radio 92.1 FM in Grand Haven welcomes Matt on the air around 9:35 with morning show host John Roberts to talk about the new role, the new office, and much more. To listen live to this interview, visit WGHN.com and click on the Listen Live link.
Starting the Week with Craig Lounsbrough
April 29, 2019
“Easter recognizes that I am living in a prison of my own making, and that God is in the demolition business.”
― Craig D Lounsbrough
HFP Blog: Matt, our new CEO, is a winner…but chances are, he won’t be an award winner. Read his dad’s thoughts this morning HERE.
April 28, 2019
"With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all."
New HFP Video
April 24, 2019
For over a decade, Humanity for Prisoners Founder Doug Tjapkes assisted James Hicks in his quest for freedom after government officials reneged on an agreement of a reduced sentence in exchange for Hicks' testimony. Recently freed through a commutation, Hicks shares his story of how HFP has impacted his life. Watch the latest video HERE.
HFP Blog: Is HFP in good hands? Read Doug’s thoughts in his latest blog post HERE.
HFP has a new President!
April 23, 2019
Matt Tjapkes has been named the new President and CEO of Humanity for Prisoners, the organization announced today. His appointment was made official by HFP Board of Directors at their quarterly meeting in Spring Lake last week. Tjapkes, of Grand Haven, has been with the organization for six years.
“I want to thank the Board of Directors for their faith in me,” Tjapkes said. “I came on six years ago, not knowing what to
expect but hoping I could be the bridge that takes this organization into the future. I see this as the next logical step in
making that happen.”
Tjapkes succeeds his father, Doug Tjapkes, and is the second President in the history of the organization. Humanity for
Prisoners, originally known as Innocent, was founded by Doug Tjapkes and Maurice Carter in 2001. The prisoner
advocacy agency is a non-profit organization serving inmates in all of Michigan’s state prisons. A team of staff members,
volunteers and professional advisors responds to over 600 calls a month, helping inmates with real, everyday needs.
Prisoners having problems with medical care and seeking help with filing Freedom of Information Act requests make
up nearly 30% of all contacts received.
Doug Tjapkes will remain on staff at HFP, focusing on fundraising and public relations.
“I’m happy to have my dad here to assist me as we both transition to the new phase for ourselves and for this organization,” Matt added. “Doug’s name has been synonymous with Humanity for Prisoners since its inception. Having his wisdom and input as we move forward will be key for the organization’s continued success.”
Both father and son are well-known as radio broadcasters as well. Matt, a sports broadcaster, has worked for WGHN covering Grand Haven Buccaneer football and basketball for the last three years, after covering Muskegon Catholic Central athletics for the previous five years. He also works for the Spartan Sports Network, primarily covering Michigan State University softball. Doug owned and operated WGHN in Grand Haven from 1964-1983.
HFP has offices in Spring Lake, and is solely supported by gifts and contributions. To learn more, visit www.humanityforprisoners.org.
Spring into the week
April 22, 2019
“Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in springtime."
Easter Sunday Verse
April 21, 2019
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead."
1 Peter 1:3
In observance of Good Friday
April 19, 2019
“Unless there is a Good Friday in your life, there can be no Easter Sunday.”
Fulton J. Sheen
HFP goes BOLD!
April 17, 2019
Humanity for Prisoners received an incredible office-warming gift from Muskegon-area custom furniture
manufacturer BOLD Furniture – seven brand new desks and four filing cabinets!
“These gifts from BOLD have given us the opportunity to immediately bring in extra help and volunteers
so we can continue to meet the growing demand for our services,” said HFP Executive Director Matt
Tjapkes. “The furniture not only is extremely functional, but gives us a clean, beautiful look to match
our new office space. We couldn’t be more grateful for their generosity.”
Watch for details in the coming months about an open house so you can check it out!
Give this week
April 15, 2019
As we begin Holy Week:
“Give something, however small, to the one in need. For it is not small to one who has nothing. Neither is it small to God, if we have given what we could.”
-St. Gregory Nazianzen
April 14, 2019
"But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."
HFP Blog & Wish List
April 12, 2019
HFP Blog: HFP welcomes another prisoner into freedom! A Lenten story. Read Doug's latest entry HERE.
HFP Wish List: If you caught the latest edition of the HPF monthly newsletter, you may have seen that we're raising funds for a few new computers in our new building. The great news is we're 60% to our goal of $2,819.24 to purchase the two new workstations. If you'd like to help us secure the final $1,127.70, you can make an online donation HERE or send a check to HFP, PO Box 687, Grand Haven, MI 49417, and put "computer" on the memo line. Thank you so much for all your support as we settle in to our new digs!
HFP's 2nd Annual Unball
April 10, 2019
You are cordially invited to stay home in your jammies and NOT attend Humanity for Prisoner's Second Annual Unball!
We had so much fun last year, we decided to not gather again!
This is a non-event designed for busy people with little time for events who want to stay home
with their family while supporting the life-changing work of Humanity for Prisoners.
You don’t have to buy a dress or rent a tuxedo.
You don’t have to do your hair or makeup.
You don’t have to get a sitter.
Your donation WILL NOT be used to rent a hall, pay a caterer, or hire entertainment.
Your donation WILL help prisoners find estranged family members, obtain critical legal
documents, get urgently needed medical care, and prepare to return to society.
Tickets are $50 each
Please consider sponsoring a table of 8 and including all the money you saved not renting a
tuxedo, hiring a babysitter, etc. - No donation is too large!
Please send your non-reservation in to HFP by April 30th. Payments can be made onlineHERE or send by mail to HFP, PO Box 687, Grand Haven, MI 49417.
HFP Annual Report
April 9, 2019
A consultant once recommended that HFP spend the money on an 8-page booklet, in color, for our annual report. It was our decision that not that many people would be interested in reading 8 pages of “hype” about HFP, and that those dollars could be better spent on helping prisoners with their multitude of problems. BUT, we did want you to see our amazing annual report. Matt has posted it on our website (it’s not 8 pages long!), you can view it HERE. Feel the excitement…and believe, with us, that 2019 will be even better!
Learn something this week
April 8, 2019
You learn to speak by speaking, to study by studying, to run by running, to work by working, and just so, you learn to love by loving. All those who think to learn in any other way deceive themselves.”
-St. Francis de Sales
April 7, 2019
"Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?"
Starting the Week with Humility, Service and Love
April 1, 2019
"The world tells us to seek success, power and money; God tells us to seek humility, service and love."
March 31, 2019
"He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak."
HFP Blog: As we remember Maurice Carter’s birthday, we wonder just how he’d fit in these days! Read the latest entry HERE.
Vets Reach Out to HFP
March 27, 2019
A message from Doug:
It is the goal and passion of HFP to serve Michigan prisoners. And while we love them all, we have special feelings for military
veterans. Partly, I suppose, because we appreciate their past service to our country. And so we help where and when we can,
with VA issues and questions, finding donors for flags, and supplying yarn for hobby craft programs. Recently, the vets unit at
Saginaw C.F. showed their thanks to HFP in a unique and meaningful way. A beautiful drawing of the hands of Jesus, painted
on canvas by prison artist Anthony Williams, was accompanied by this message as a follow-up to recent open-heart surgery:
"Doug, You are in His healing hands. We’re all praying for your healthy recovery. God bless you! Signed, The Veterans from
Saginaw." That was followed by four pages of hand-written notes and messages from 37 veterans! In her Grand Haven speech,
Sister Helen Prejean made this statement about HFP’s work with prisoners: “…we also develop a reciprocity of mutuality. After
a while we begin to realize, ‘I’m not just going there for those prisoners. It's what they also give to me!’” And that’s what
happened in the mail. We received a heart-warming gift from beautiful friends. Even more than the gift they sent, I treasure the
friendship of these guys! Thank you to the veterans at Saginaw CF.
Do something this week
March 25, 2019
"The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it."
HFP Blog: Today, March 25, is a relatively unknown day on the Christian calendar: St. Dismas Day. Doug thinks it should be a special day for all of us. See today’s post HERE.
March 24, 2019
See! The winter is past;
the rains are over and gone.
Flowers appear on the earth;
the season of singing has come,
the cooing of doves
is heard in our land.
Song of Songs 2:11-13
Starting the Week with Integrity
March 18, 2019
"The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office."
Dwight D. Eisenhower
March 17, 2019
"What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good] is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead."
HFP is on the Move!
March 13, 2019
A message from Russell Bloem, the Chairman of the Board of Directors for Humanity for Prisoners:
March 7, 2019 was a milestone day for HFP. After years of struggling to get the job done from very
cramped quarters in a retro-fit closet / office in a converted house in Grand Haven, we closed the deal
on our very own “condo office” in Spring Lake!
The office is at an excellent location and in excellent condition. It will generously meet our current
needs and will enable us to accommodate (much needed) volunteers to help us respond to the
ever-increasing volume of requests. We will even have a room for small committee meetings on site.
Everything came together in an amazing way to make this possible! It turns out the sellers were
good friends of HFP and offered us a “sweetheart” land contract deal. A bunch of our Board
members pooled their funds to come up with the down payment. A couple other business friends
are donating the office furniture and computer network that we need. We have people lining up t
o help with painting and setting up. And, after the dust settles, our net operating costs will be about
the same as before.
Now, to be sure, we will continue to need be careful with each and every dollar you all provide – but we are better positioned than ever to make an impact for Michigan inmates. This move opens up a world of possibilities and we couldn’t be more excited.
Stay tuned for details on an open house and other ways you can help!
March 8, 2019
Our friends from the National Lifers of America have asked us to pass along a petition HERE. A note of explanation from our friend Timothy Murphy, who serves as the NLA's Legislative Committee Chairman:
Dear HFP friends,
The National Lifers of America, Inc., (NLA) is a nonprofit Michigan corporation formed on January 1, 1981 and is governed primarily by prisoner boards of directors, on both the national and local chapter levels.
The NLA works to bring about positive reforms for prisoners by advocating for meaningful amendments in Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) policies and Michigan laws amid at reforming our prison system. We seek to assist the underprivileged with academic development and self-determination that fosters a broader understanding of education in criminal justice and formulation of positive solutions towards reform and release of incarcerated persons.
It is our belief that the MDOC continues to hold far too many parole eligible lifer prisoners who can otherwise be safely released into our communities, saving the state nearly a quarter billion dollars annually. If you share this belief we encourage you to become involved by talking to others and individually you all letting your voices be heard through petition drives like the one accompanying this message.
It is extremely important, though, that you (members of the general public) realize how vitally important it is that you join us in efforts like this one. We need you, your family, and your friends to become the voices of the voiceless imprisoned men and women in our state's prisons. You pay (through your tax dollars) to house, feed, dress, and hopefully educate these imprisoned citizens until one day released. You should have a say in whether these men and women come out of prison better than when they entered. Believe me when I tell you there is power in numbers, and if enough of you speak up, though petitions like this one, you can and will be heard.
Please do not think your voice does not count. In reality it only takes one: one act to spark a movement, one tree to start a forest, one vote to change a nation, one star to guide a ship at sea, one laugh to conquer gloom, one sunbeam to light a room, one bird to herald spring, and one of your voices to change this system. Will you be that voice? Will you be one of the ones to help us make real change? Please sign and share our petition. Thank you and God bless.
Timothy Murphy CP/LA
NLA Legislative Committee Chairman
HFP Yarn Program gets early start in 2019!
March 6, 2019
HFP Board Member Judy VanderArk and her husband Pete picked up 725 pounds of yarn from a carpet factory this month. The company, which prefers to remain anonymous, donates unused spools of yarn to HFP for use by prisoners. In this project, thousands of pounds of yarn are collected each year by a team of volunteers, and delivered to various Michigan prisons where inmates knit and crochet items for charity. Pete and Judy have quietly coordinated this exceptional program for years.
HFP Blog: So are the bad guys the ones who are in prison? Doug and Fr Greg discuss the topic today: https://humanityforprisoners.blogspot.com/2019/03/no-bad-guys-really.html
Find the truth
March 4, 2019
"Truth is incontrovertible, malice may attack it and ignorance may deride it, but, in the end, there it is."
Sir Winston Churchill
March 3, 2019
"Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless."
March 1, 2019
Michigan’s parole process has been given a grade of C-minus in a national rating. Doug thinks that’s being generous. In today’s post, he focuses on whether prosecutors should even have a part in the parole-granting decision process: https://humanityforprisoners.blogspot.com/2019/02/should-prosecutors-have-say-in-public.html
Another month, another record! HFP is off to a record-breaking start in 2019. After setting a new monthly record with 677 contacts in January, HFP broke that record with 710 in February! Thank you for your continued support as we touch more lives than ever!