What happens to individuals without a strong family and/or support structure once released from jail?
Just over one year ago I was released from the Dickinson County Correctional Facility after a 12 month sentence. Although my family is one of love, support, and strong moral character, I left them with no other choice than to disconnect from me.
It's not as if this one action was enough, it was my repeated poor choices and heavy drinking over the past ten years.
After one month into my sentence I started to ask myself, "why no visits, no letters, no money?"
As I started to feel sorry for myself and bitterness started to set in, I read a flyer announcing the start of a new program at the local jail. It read, "Everyone is welcome to attend Deacon Don Christy's God Loves Everyone Ministry through St. Mary and St. Joseph Catholic Church."
I decided to give it a chance.
After attending for a month, something started to happen to me.
I began to turn inward and suddenly I realized maybe it was me that gave up on me, not God, not my family. Now a radical reorientation of my heart and mind was taking place. I began to realize that I had to take responsibility for my future.
Deacon Don's ministry was unlike the traditional Bible study. We learned not how to quote scripture, but how to apply it to one's life.
Now I have focus and direction for my life. Suddenly it all made sense. I was like Jonah in the belly of the whale. Jail was nothing more than the great fish God provided to swallow me from the self-destructing sea that I had created. Once spit back out on dry land, I had many profound and life changing experiences.
I was able to attend a Cursillo at Marygrove, which I can say was the best experience of my life.
I also spent two months at Great Lakes Treatment in Marquette. This was due to the support structure Deacon Don had helped me establish. I have been attending an accredited university and I am on my way to a bachelor degree in business.
I belong to St. Mary and St. Joseph Catholic Church in Iron Mountain, and I attend Mass there weekly.
I would like to add that the Dickinson County Correctional Facility is just that, a correctional facility.
I appreciate Judge Celello for his trust in me, Sheriff Celello, Lieutenant Price, and others for their care and devotion to the community. Without their support, much of this would not be possible.
Many inmates may have a hard time hearing this, but in reality it is up to the inmate to choose his or her own path. Dickinson County Correctional Facility has the tools one needs to change their course, such as GED classes, mental health professionals, medical staff, Bible studies, and jail ministry.
It must be disheartening for the above mentioned to see the revolving door in our jail due to the lack of continued support and safe living environment one needs once released.
I've been blessed with the support of my family and friends. But what about those less fortunate, to whom shall they go?
Finally the Alpha Omega Residential Rehab Facility is no longer a concept, it has become a reality after 16 months of hard work, lots of prayer, and tons of support from all areas of this community.
With the help of Catholic Social Services, many denominations, Christian leaders, and the jail ministry, our community now has the support structure and safe living environment for these men.
The home is complimented with professionals of many fields, such as substance abuse, relapse prevention, GED, resume writing, mental health, theology, and most importantly, fellowship. The overwhelming support already received from the community is nothing short of incredible.
The day-to-day operational costs have been pledged by various churches of many denominations.
However, the monetary needs to repay the cost of securing the home are still needed. I hope this letter helps give a little more transparency into the value of Alpha Omega. Any donation one can give would be a blessing to Alpha Omega, but even more so to themselves.
When we are talking about strong community and human dignity, the value always exceeds the cost. I appreciate your consideration and God bless. God is counting on you.
Curtis G. Frame
Housing and Rehab