Thank you to each of you who supported us, through way of donation or by attending, the Mission Gala. All of the proceeds benefit two great service founded organizations, and your support is changing people’s lives, in the US and in the Dominican Republic. On behalf of the mission team, I thank you very much for your very generous support.
I have a few more stories from our Chicago Mission Trip that I wanted to share with you. On our second full day of our trip, we visited St. Leonard’s halfway house, a transitional house for those entering society after time in the criminal justice system. Although daunting at first, these men were very nice and respectful. Did you know?: The US imprisons more people than any other country. While the U.S. Represents about 5% of the world’s population, it houses around 25% of the world’s prisoners. 1 in 32 adults in the US is behind bars, on probation or parole. Another interesting note: Growth in the prison population is due to changing policy, not increased crime. There are nearly 5 times as many people who suffer from mental illness in prison as there are in inpatient mentalhospitals. Lastly, the US spends about 6 times more money on prisons than on education. All of the above is very alarming, but our site visits brought hope to those staggering statistics. We even had the opportunity to hear a few of the men’s witnesses: two gentlemen named Jeff and Terry. Each person gave a really incredible witness to their journey in life, and what they would do differently as a teenager. Jeff was ready to move out of the St. Leonard’s program the week after he spoke to us, and he was speaking very well as a humble man and father. Terry had just finished a 40+ year sentence in jail, and was explaining the difficulty he is having in just communicating! He said back in the 80’s, cell phones weren’t available, but now are the primary mode of communication. Jeff gave us a greater depth into what it was like living in Chicago with no father, or support system to guide him through life. That led to him finding other role models. He later found out they were gang members, and he later spent several years in jail. Jeff spoke on how these years made him prioritize what was important in his life moving forward. Terry gave a greater witness on peer pressure and finding the right support system at a young age. Both men had broken families as young children, which greatly formed their decisions as teens/adults. Both men gave us great hospitality and shared great joy with us as well in sharing their story and offering advice. Without your support, we would have never met Terry or Jeff. So thank you again for making all of this possible.