I love celebrations! From birthdays and anniversaries to ribbon cuttings and graduations, celebrating milestones is one of my favorite things to do. High fives and congratulations are part of our American culture. Whether we are welcoming a winning little league team back to town after a championship, or watching a ticker-tape parade marking the return of veterans from a war, celebrating is something we do well.
Maybe that’s why I enjoy my work so much: we celebrate milestones almost every day! We celebrate every month of clean-time. We celebrate every time a client gets a job. We celebrate every time a donor calls to say, “I have furniture to donate!” (Well, everyone celebrates but the guy who has to load the trailer and pick it up…)
Some of our most significant celebrations take place just outside the court rooms. Maintaining the proper decorum until we can be dismissed to the hallway, is sometimes difficult, especially when so much is at stake. In the month of March, we have celebrated three clients whose dedication, hard work, and patience culminated in a freedom so sweet it is almost indescribable. One of these clients had been on probation for nine years. One had multiple layers of fines, tickets and court costs associated with driving without a license. And, one had chipped away ever so slowly at nearly $10,000 in fines. In each case, the money had to be paid before the client could even think about moving forward or getting her driver’s license reinstated.
Granted, most of us would find a way to take care of those obligations. However, for most of us, it has been awhile since we worked for minimum wage. Our clients consider themselves blessed to have even a part time, minimum wage job. Most bring home less than $150 per week; those who are paying child support see half of that amount garnished. When the reality sets in that fines and fees have to be paid to move forward toward freedom, on top the cost of living, frustration and discouragement can quickly replace the celebration of finding a job. The situation is usually completely overwhelming. And, when a person is alone and overwhelmed, it can be almost impossible to be optimistic about a solution, much less come up with a plan of action.
Each of the women I mentioned above were challenged to work overtime and turn in every paycheck, less a frugal “allowance”. For every dollar saved, Doors of Hope offered a $1 match, and quickly the overwhelming problem became solvable. One client who cleans hotel rooms for $3.50 per room, paid off her probation and was able to have her license reinstated within two months. With a valid driver’s license, she is now working toward obtaining a car, and finally a place to live. Her two little boys, ages 2 and 9, have been in foster care for over a year, and are looking forward to coming home to live with a very grateful mom within the next 6-8 weeks.
Another client, who makes $2.10 an hour plus tips as a server, began working two server jobs. Barely taking out time to sleep, she took advantage of the same match offer. As a result, she paid off $4,000 in fines, purchased insurance, and paid her reinstatement fees within eight weeks. She is a legal driver for the first time in eight years, and high-fives me every time I see her.
Another client successfully completed the DUI court program, a monumental feat which includes not only staying sober and attending meetings, but paying thousands of dollars in fines. We celebrate her sobriety, hard work and graduation from this program in two weeks.
Our goal is to match the efforts of at least 20 hard-working men and women like these three this year; clients who are proactively working the LIFE program. If you would like to contribute to this exciting incentive program, you may do so by sending your tax-deductible check to Doors of Hope, POB 2392, Murfreesboro TN 37133. Just specify “Matching Funds” on the memo line of your check or you may from the front page of the website using PayPal.
And get ready to celebrate!!
“If we keep doing what we’ve been doing, we’ll keep getting what we’ve been getting. If we want to change what we’ve been getting in life we must change what we are doing… doing otherwise is insanity.”
CHANGE! We are continually encouraged by the change that we are witnessing in the lives of the men that we are able to connect with at the Rutherford County Correctional Work Center (RCCWC) through Project Braveheart. Our current weekly cognitive restructuring class is heading down the home stretch with graduation scheduled for April 25th. In addition to this weekly class at RCCWC we are also connecting with more and more Braveheart graduates that have released from RCCWC on Thursday nights at our weekly Transformation Group.
We are teaching and connecting. Mentors are praying and encouraging. God is transforming! The men that we touch are setting new courses in their lives…