New Beginnings-Next Step has just
launched a Community Clothes Closet, which
operates from 3:30-4:30 PM every Saturday at 401
N. West St., Wilmington, DE, 19801.
I’m writing for two reasons. One is to let you know about some upcoming gigs. The other is to ask for help with my ongoing work with prisoners and Returning Citizens.
First the music stuff… I’ll be in Asheville, NC
this Friday night, and then in Vero Beach, FL
next week for several performances. Check out my
web page for information–
World Café Live
Aside from recording, one of the big reasons I’ve been absent from the road so much this winter has been my ever-deepening involvement with my prison and post-release programs, New Beginnings, and New Beginnings-Next Step. Our groups, both inside and outside the walls, have been growing as more men are joining us in the hope of breaking the cycle of recidivism that has cast such a shadow of hopelessness over so many lives.
When inmates leave our in-prison support groups and join us on the street, New Beginnings-Next Step provides basic transition assistance in the form of weekly bus passes and grocery store food cards. We also occasionally help, if the coffers allow, with emergency housing assistance, and one-time “moving forward grants” to assist guys in various ways. Several men have used these grants to obtain used lap-tops to help them attend community college; one man got his highway flagger’s certification; another was able to buy a bed; one man even purchased, with our help, a used industrial floor polisher, and started a business, which now hires other Returning Citizens.
Aside from- and more important than- the basic
material assistance we try to offer, New
Beginnings-Next Step creates community among
those who are resolved to live successful lives,
free, and forever clear of incarceration. Our
motto is “Up To Staying Free”, (although “Out
Like Flynn” has been suggested!)
A vital benefit of New Beginnings membership is growing self-awareness. Just this past Sunday afternoon, a young man shared that he recently had gotten so discouraged with his inability to find employment since leaving prison that he felt his attitude seriously deteriorating. He was so full of frustration and hopelessness that he was tempted to abandon his new plans, and resume old ways. (In group we call this getting a case of the “F –its” as the guys insist on trying to curb the habit profanity, especially in the presence of our women volunteers.) In the past, the young man stated, these feelings would have resulted in a decision to make a quick $500 on the street by “picking up a package”. Instead of going back to hustling, however, the young man decided to pick up a phone and talk things out with another one of our returning members. Twelve-step programs have sponsors. New Beginnings seems to have the jail version of this, which would translate into cellmates, or “cellies”. Talking to his New Beginnings “celly”, and getting to our weekend meeting, allowed the young man to literally break a link between unexamined emotion and reaction that had always cost him his freedom. Through a new self-awareness, the young man told us he was able to make better decisions this time. He was able to ride out the emotional storm as old patterns were rejected in favor of new choices. He smiled as he said these things. One decision at a time to do the “next right thing”. That’s how lives really change.
One exciting new project NB-NS has recently
embarked on is our community clothing closet,
which provides gently used clothes in one of
Wilmington, Delaware’s most economically
challenged neighborhoods. The clothes closet
serves important additional purposes as it
allows those of our guys who are struggling to
find work to buttress their resumes by
volunteering, while raising self-esteem by
giving back to the community. If you’re in the
Delaware area, and would like to donate clothes,
just email me for info.
OK… now the big news!
To aid in supporting us in this important work, some wonderful friends of mine have served up a generous challenge. They’ve offered to donate $5000 to New Beginning-Next Step on the condition that we can match their donation by raising the same amount. (Having just run a four hour marathon at age 58, you know I don’t back down from challenges!)
To this end I am offering to do series of special New Beginnings House Concerts this year, in which I will donate 50% of my profits to New Beginnings-Next Step. If you have any interest in hosting me for such a fund raising event in your home, please contact me through my webpage.
Or, if you would like to directly support me in this work, you can write a check to New Beginnings-Next Step, and mail it to: Pacem in Terris, 410 N. West St, Wilmington, DE, 19801. All donations are tax deductable.
Thanks for all your help and friendship! I hope to see you out there sometime soon!
You can follow John on twitter @singwriter
© Flying Stone Music
Most of this stuff was typed by a songer-singwriter, so please excuse typos and double check all info!
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