The Hope-Western Prison Education Program relies on the generosity and goodwill of hundreds of people. Most have never met the students they support. Prisons are often located far from public view, and visiting someone in prison is fraught with bureaucratic challenges. Incarcerated people are largely invisible to most of us.
Our students are fully aware that their education is the product of not only their own hard work, but the prayers and financial contributions of many people. And they are grateful. One student encouraged me to share the following tribute he titled “Donations, More Than Money.”
It is my goal in composing this letter to enlighten you on what your donations provide for students in the Hope-Western Prison Education Program.
On may 9, 2023 around 12:45 PM during the HWPEP Donor Event, a prison official looked me sternly in the eye and motioned for me to come to him. Initially I thought to myself, “What did I do?” As I moved gingerly toward him, he asked me if I would take a group of HWPEP supporters on a tour of the school building. With a sigh of relief and a smile plastered across my face I replied “Absolutely.”
As the four of us — accompanied by one staff member — strolled through different spaces of the school building where HWPEP classes occur, questions, comments, and responses began to soar in the air like paper spitballs inside a grade school classroom. Impressed by the interaction and quality questions from donors, I thought to myself: “These people are really into this program.”
Now allow me to articulate what your donations exemplify. They are like organ donors who risk their lives to save another’s. Submitting to the incisions of scalpels in the hands of doctors, organ donors are opened up in order to have a piece of themselves removed and transferred to someone else. In like manner, you opened up yourselves, allowing compassion to be transferred, consideration removed from your minds, and charity given from your hearts for the noble purpose of transplanting the vital organ of education into the minds, hearts, and lives of men in the Hope-Western Prison Education Program.
It has been said that an aim for education is to awaken the best part of a person’s soul (Plato, Republic). Whenever you make a donation to HWPEP, the highest return on your investment is a soul that has been awakened to the best part of itself. Speaking from personal experience, this awakening not only impacts the soul of the student, but it ripples out, impacting the lives of prison staff, cellmates, family, and friends you may never meet. Students at HWPEP are inspired by your generosity, and determined to succeed not only as students, but as members of humanity equipped to make lasting change.
In one HWPEP course, students were exposed to the following thought: “The guarantee in life is that we are going to suffer. What is not guaranteed is how we will respond, whether we let this suffering embitter or ennoble us. This is our choice.” Your contributions to HWPEP expose students to such noteworthy thoughts that empower them to know they are not helpless nor inadequate when it comes to how they respond to various situations in their lives.
In closing, students at HWPEP are inspired by your generosity and determined to succeed not only as students, but as members of humanity equipped to make lasting change.