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  • Doug Tjapkes

Heroes venture behind bars!

Every time I drive past a major intersection here in Grand Haven, I get a warm feeling. There’s a big skilled nursing facility on that corner, and I’m sure the past year has been a stressful time for both occupants and staff. But here’s the thing I like: There are signs in the lawn all around the building saying Heroes work here! The pandemic has helped us become aware of all kinds of heroes. In addition to the doctors, nurses and first responders, we have found heroes who kept our grocery stores open, for example; who kept public transportation alive; and yes, who hauled away our garbage. All kinds of unsung heroes. I’ve been thinking about this subject since last weekend when I heard one of my favorite country gospel groups, The Isaacs, singing their song called Heroes. The theme is that you may not know their names, but many everyday people are heroes all the same. Today I’m going to do something about it. I’m surrounded by a group of heroes, and I’m going to tell the world about it. Here’s the story. Last month, HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS responded to a record number of calls for help: 2,131! That boils down to 70 messages a day to our office via email, snail mail and telephone, 7 days a week for the month of March! To expand on that a little more, just a couple years ago, in 2019, we responded to a total of 6,800 calls. So far this year, we’ve already received 5,800 calls! Some of the requests for assistance are more urgent than others, but I assure you these are not frivolous matters. And our policy is, and always has been, that Michigan inmates seeking help from us will get a prompt response. We may not be able to help them right away, but they won’t be ignored. Obviously, to handle that kind of volume. It takes a team. So, here goes. To the office gang---Susie, Sarah, Melissa, Ted, and Matt; and to our group of marvelous volunteers--- Bob 1 and Bob 2, Jen, Taylor, Rebekah, Harley, Bill, Ron, Kathy, Paul, Gabriella, and Heather, I dedicate this chorus from the Isaacs: He's a hero and she's a hero It doesn't matter that nobody knows their name They keep on givin' to make life worth livin' Might go unnoticed but they're heroes just the same Representing many men and women behind bars in Michigan, inmate Eddie summed it up best in his email message to HFP this week: In case you didn't know, you are appreciated!

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