be a part of someone's second chance

Jesus spent a lot of time trying to show us that we all need second chances.  It’s the ones who forget it that are in real trouble.  For a lot of us, this truth is ‘spiritualized’ – and it should be; we need a second chance with God.  A lot of second chances, actually. 

But Jesus wasn’t just talking about some cosmic, otherworldly kind of second chance.  He reached out and healed people’s bodies.  He restored outcasts from the fringe of society to a proper place in the heart of the community.  He came to teach us that the ‘spiritual’ second chance we need touches every part of our lives – our bodies, our minds, our dreams, our relationships, our work…

There’s a place in South Bend that exists for second chances, and I want you to know about it.  Dismas House has been providing housing, mentoring, community and accountability to ex-offenders since 1986.  A quick web search will tell you that in the U.S., we average a recidivism rate of somewhere around 60%.  In other words, once you’re released from prison in America, the odds are better than 50:50 that you’ll end up back in there.   Since Dismas South Bend has been tracking its own data, only 16% of its participants have ended up back in prison.  That’s amazing.  I had a chance to spend some time with the crew at Dismas Monday night and hear their story.  Here’s a terrible, fuzzy picture I took with my phone:

Dismas isn’t just interested in giving a hand out.  They’re offering a hand up to their residents.  Each person is expected to pay for a portion of their expenses, typically through employment.  However, if you’re from Michiana, you can know how hard this has been lately.  If you’ve had a hard time finding employment in this economic climate, imagine how hard it is when you have to include a conviction on your application. 

In an effort to find alternative methods of raising support, Dismas Designs has been created.  It started with one woman, Coretta, who discovered a talent for making jewelry.  Now the whole house is in on the action, and they mean business.  They’ve partnered with a class of students from Notre Dame that’s studying social entrepreneurship – using business solutions to tackle social problems – and are pulling together their business plan.   

If you’ve always wanted to be a part of someone else’s second chance, this is for you.  These former convicts are choosing a better future and working hard to make it happen, but you can help.  Dismas Designs needs donations of old jewelry that they can use to make their new creations.  They need places to sell their wares.  And they need us to spread the word. 

If you’re interested in helping in anyway, will you contact Maria Kaczmarek, Executive Director at Dismas?  Call 574.233.8522, email dismassouthbend@sbcglobal.net, or head to www.dismassouthbend.org to learn more.