A little Goodwill goes a long way

We have all seen the public service announcements on television or heard the spots on the radio. “Donate your used car to Goodwill – it can help someone who needs transportation.” Most of us probably did not give it much thought, not realizing the kind of impact transportation can make for a person who really needs it.

Jamie Hacker Kemper, a resident of Prodigal Minstries’ McCauley House in Crestwood, was one such person. Most Prodigal clients do not have transportation when they re-enter society. Being able to afford a reliable car is on the agenda for many of them.

Jamie is the first Prodigal recipient of a car through the Goodwill Cars to Work program. So just what is the program? An individual donates a vehicle to Goodwill, and they have a mechanic thoroughly inspect the vehicle and repair anything wrong with it. Once a vehicle is ready, Goodwill works with referring agencies to find a candidate for the available vehicle. Pat Blandford, program director for Prodigal Ministries, worked with Jamie to prepare the application and budget statement that Goodwill reviews. Once the determination is made to approve the applicant, a 24-month payment plan is developed, with a monthly payment in the range of $150-275 per month. Interest paid during the 2-year life of the “loan” is re-paid to the new vehicle owner if payments are made on time. In addition, there is a roadside warranty on the vehicle while the payments are being made.

As you can see from the picture, Jamie is as proud of her new ride as we are of her. Hopefully this will not be the only time Prodigal and Goodwill can work together on this program. So if you have a reliable used car you do not want to just give away to a car dealership in trade, please consider supporting the Cars to Work initiative.

Jamie Hacker Kemper in her new car

Inaugural Season for Prodigal Sons Softball Team, sponsored by New Century Plumbing

The hot, humid summer evening envelops the Oldham County Parks and Recreation Field.  The field is ready, and the teams have warmed up when the umpire says “Play ball!”  Over the fence in left centerfield you see another fence in the distance – a fence with barbed wire on top and a guard tower and you realize this is not a normal game.  This game matches a team of inmates from the Roederer Correctional Complex (RCC) with a team called Prodigal Sons.  Some of the Prodigal Sons had once played for the other team, and the closeness is not lost on them.  They want to win this game versus their former team.

This year marks the inaugural season for the Prodigal Sons team. Team members include Prodigal Ministries clients from the Wright House and the Oak Street East House. Other team members are from New Century Plumbing of LaGrange, which sponsors the team this season.    Gloves and bats are provided to team members by Wilson (formerly Louisville Slugger).  Reflex Graphics, owned and operated by one of the Tuesday night Bible study volunteers at the Oak Street house, provided the hats and shirts.  These generous sponsors allow for the Prodigal residents to interact in a positive environment with community members – participating in a team setting lets them enjoy the camaraderie that goes along with a sports team.

Though not successful on the scoreboard for Prodigal Sons this evening, this is a game with much more meaning than the outcome on the field.  Some of the Roederer team members are participating in The Bridge program, which is a typical experience many Prodigal residents have prior to their release from prison.  One of the players from the RCC team will soon be released and become a resident at Prodigal, and his skills on the field would be a welcome addition to the Prodigal Sons team.  All of the players from both teams join hands in the infield following the game for a prayer.  There really are no losers in this game, as everyone comes together as the body of Christ – free and incarcerated, white and black, young and not so young, it makes no difference.  The sun shines brightly on both teams and for that hour the game lasts they are all free to enjoy the game.

Following the game, some of the Prodigal Ministries board members in attendance meet with the team and provide some well-earned Gatorade.  As they talk, the other team loads onto their bus for the short journey to the fence beyond left field, to their current home at RCC. With God’s guidance, hopefully these men will become players for Prodigal Sons in the near future.

Shopping at Kroger can benefit Prodigal!

If you shop at Kroger and you have a Kroger Plus Card, please take a few minutes and select Prodigal Ministries as your Community Rewards Program. After you follow the few simple steps below, Kroger will make quarterly donations to Prodigal and you will help us raise money. It’s that simple!

TO USE THE KROGER COMMUNITY REWARDS PROGRAM:

  • Have your Kroger Plus Card handy
  • Go to krogercommunityrewards.com
  • Most people are new online customers, so they must click on SIGN UP TODAY
  • Create your account, then check your email to confirm the new account
  • Click Sign in and use your email address and password to proceed to the next step
  • Click on Edit Kroger Community Rewards information and input your Kroger Plus card number [Do you use your phone number at the register?  Call 800-576-4377, select option 4 to get your Kroger Plus card number.]
  • Update and confirm your information, then search for Prodigal Ministries
  • To verify you are enrolled correctly, you will see your organization’s name on the right side of your information page

Remember to swipe your card or enter your phone number each time you shop so your purchase will count towards the community rewards program to benefit Prodigal. Thank you for your time and your donation!

Teams Forming Now For 10th Annual Golf Scramble

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With the advent of spring, we are busy planning for the 10th Annual Robinson S. Brown, Jr. Memorial Golf Tournament.

Join us Monday, June 8, at Audubon Country Club for a fun-filled day of golf while supporting the mission of Prodigal Ministries.

Registration begins at 11 a.m., followed by a light lunch in the clubhouse. Then it’s out to the course for a shotgun start at 12:30 p.m. The day wraps up with an awards ceremony and dinner at 4:30 pm.

The memorial event is sponsored by Brown-Forman and Stock Yards Bank & Trust.  If you don’t golf, you can still help by sponsoring a hole or donating an item for our silent auction.

The entry fee, which includes lunch and dinner, is $250 per person or $1,000 for a team of four.  Call 502.749.9194 to register.

Many thanks to Jack Shea and his committee for coordinating this annual event. See you on the green!

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Beechland Baptist Partners with Prodigal Minitries

Since mid-2002, Beechland Baptist Church has been associated with Prodigal Ministries.  In those early days, a small group of volunteers provided dinner once a month and attended a Bible study at Prodigal’s only house for men at the time, located on 18th Street in downtown Louisville.

That initial involvement faded after a short period, but the spark never died.  On occasion, some of Prodigal’s clients would still go out to southwest Jefferson County to attend services at Beechland.  It was one such resident who rekindled the fire.

Darin Ashley was a resident of Prodigal House and found a church home at Beechland.  He volunteered on committees, joined a blossoming Sunday School class, and eventually was elected to the church’s Deacon Board.  During one of the monthly Deacon Board meetings, Darin challenged those in attendance to engage with Prodigal House once again – to provide dinner once a month and participate in the weekly Bible study.  The challenge was accepted, and for the last five years Beechland men have been active at Prodigal West.

Once each month, Beechland provides dinner for the 12-15 regular attendees at the Tuesday night Bible study.  The church provides each new resident a $50 Wal-Mart gift card.  In addition, two of the Beechland Sunday School classes assist with donations.  The Agape class provides a new backpack for each resident filled with toiletries, work gloves, and a new Bible.  The Grace class provides paper products for the house.

Perhaps the most meaningful way Beechland is involved is through the time the volunteers spend interacting with the residents.  Several men from the church attend every week for the study and visit with/talk to the residents throughout the week.  The Beechland volunteers help lead the Bible study and often attend Christian concert, ball games, and other outside activities with the men who live in Prodigal West.

“The love and support that Beechland members bring to Prodigal is so important to our clients,” said Jennifer Partin, executive director. “The faith and friendship extended to our residents reminds them how valuable they are to God, to their families, and to the community. We are called to extend the grace of Christ to ex-offenders and these volunteers are doing just that.”

What We Do, Matters – A Client Testimonial

Success of programs like Prodigal often are measured in numbers: how many clients served; what percent of those clients have not returned to prison, etc.  But perhaps the best indicators of our success are found in the personal stories of transformation and hope of each person whose lives we impact.

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“I am so thankful to Prodigal Ministries for many reasons.  I had moved into my own home and had custody of my son over a year ago after being at Prodigal’s Wright House for several months after prison.  Life was going well – I was self employed, had my son living with me and everything was going good until I had an accident and was prescribed pain medication.  I entered a rehabilitation program and Prodigal let me return after I completed the 12 step program.  They have helped me put my life back together again and supported me in my recovery.  Once again I am living with my son in a house in the country that a staff member helped me locate.  My son is with me and loves the country.  He is going to high school this year.

“I have my own licensed business and am hoping to work with Prodigal Ministries to give other men a chance to work with me.  I will support them in their recovery, in their spiritual life, and show them that God can restore our families and how to be a good father.  I am giving back to the program that gave so much to me. ”

Rick, age 44

Prodigal Adds Eight to Board of Directors

Since June 1st, Prodigal Ministries has added eight new members to the board of directors. Continuing on the growth path set out in a 2012 Strategic Plan, the board is growing to lead expansion in the areas of programming, staff development, volunteer development, facility management, fundraising and communications.

“It is exciting to watch the board grow to better serve our clients,” said Mary Ellen Stottmann, board chair. “The diverse skills and experience of our newest board members bring a needed depth to ensure we meet the goals of our Strategic Plan.”

New Board Members:

Brendan Bergin – Account Manager, Winroc/SPI
Matt Blandford – Wealth Management Advisor, Northwestern Mutual
Lisa Britton – MCI, Finance
Gregg Callas – Risk Eliminator, A Plus Paper Shredding
John Chilton – Partner, Mountjoy Chilton Medley (co-founder of Prodigal, returning to Board)
Brandon Cooper – Independent Business Owner & Umpire
Robert Gregor – UPS Air
Steve Skaggs – Project Engineer, US Army Corps of Engineers
Win Walker Jr. – President, Win Walker Real Estate

They join the following existing board members.

Executive Committee:
Mary Ellen Stottmann – Chair
Jack Shea, Sr. – Vice Chair
Tony Ford – Secretary
Dan Lawson – Treasurer
Jennifer Partin – Executive Director

Directors:
Linda Baker
Cheryl Carl
John Chilton
Valerie Combs
John Dotson
Nathaniel Green
Eric Isaacson
Ken Lanham, Jr.

 

Alcohol and Drugs Threatened Career of Hall of Fame Jockey

Pat Day with Prodigal Board Members at CIS 2014Hall of Fame Jockey Pat Day shared a powerful testimony of his struggles with alcohol and drugs during the early years of his career that threatened his success.  Day, the guest speaker at Prodigal Ministries’ 2014 Christmas in September Fashion Event and Dinner, understands addiction.

Day has made no secret of his struggles with substance abuse that began in the late 1970s during his rapid rise to the top of the national standings and top rider at Churchill Downs. 

“Despite my success, there was a void in my life that I tried to fill with drugs and alcohol,” he told the audience of more than 250 who gathered for the seventh annual event at the Seelbach Hilton Louisville on September 4th.

At his darkest point, Day encountered the redeeming love of Jesus Christ that turned his life around. “Christ removed the chains of addiction from me, and I have found the joy, the peace and the contentment that ultimately we’re all looking for in my relationship with Him.”

Day went on to win more than 8,800 races in a career spanning 32 years, and was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1991.

“Pat Day struggled with and overcame the same addictions that our clients deal with,” said Mary Ellen Stottmann, Board Chair for Prodigal Ministries. “Drugs and alcohol are often major factors leading to incarceration.  Prisoners are a fast-growing population in America, with an impact that goes beyond the prisoner to their families, particularly children. That impact trickles throughout the community.”

A Christian aftercare program, Prodigal Ministries offers transitional housing to men and women just released from prison. Prodigal’s mission is to help them become self-sufficient and avoid prison return with Christ as their primary support system.

“Prodigal Ministries gives hope to newly-released men & women, providing critical support such as housing, job training, and counseling that significantly increase their chances of not returning to prison,” said Mrs. Stottmann. “The first 90 days are crucial. With no housing, no job prospects and no income source, many of these men & women are simply overwhelmed and fall back into old patterns that result in a return to prison. Of those that return to prison, a majority – nearly 85% – will reoffend within 30 days of release.”

The support services the organization provides have helped Prodigal Ministries to achieve a significantly reduced return-to-prison rate for its clients, compared to state and national rates.

The Christmas in September Fashion Event & Dinner was supported by Corporate Sponsor: Stock Yards Bank & Trust; Cocktail Sponsors: Brown-Forman and Volare Italian Ristorante; Valet Parking Sponsor: Blue Grass Motorsport; and Media Sponsors: Today’s Woman and Louisville Public Media.

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Photo — Hall of Fame Jockey Pat Day (left), with Prodigal Ministries board member Nat Green and Jennifer Partin, Executive Director.

Volunteers are Integral to Prodigal’s Mission

At the heart of Prodigal Ministries’ mission is the desire to share the grace and love we have received from God with those who are in desperate need of His grace and love.  Volunteers are an integral part of Prodigal Ministries, working on behalf of and walking alongside our clients.

There are numerous ways you can volunteer your time to help our clients; from providing transportation to church, medical appointments, parole officer meetings and grocery shopping, to leading bible studies, providing meals, and collecting household and hygiene items for clients.

SECC Workday at Wright House
Southeast Christian Church volunteers remove brush from fence row on workday at the Wright House in May.

One recent Saturday in May, a group of men from Southeast Christian Church’s Oldham campus (SECC), joined staff and clients for a workday at one of Prodigal’s residential homes, the Wright House in Buckner, Ky.  Led by Mark Cappo, the SECC volunteers power-washed the house and cleared brush from fence row and lot behind the house. They also organized and cleaned a Prodigal warehouse on the same property, and mowed the lawn.  The group took a break for a lunch of grilled burgers and hot dogs, cooked by the staff.

Immediate needs:

– a family or small group to bring a meal and perhaps join the men for Bible study at the Wright House on the 4th Tuesday of each month, beginning in August.

– twin-sized blankets (new, please)

If you or your organization are interested in learning more about volunteering with Prodigal Ministries, please contact Pat Blandford at 502-749-9194 or patprodigal@bellsouth.net.

 

 

Paying It Forward

What a blessing to see the fruits of of Prodigal labor at work.  We see it in the faces of former clients who return for visits with updates of their new homes, new jobs and new lives.  We also see it at work when our clients get together to help each other.

We saw it when a community client was in need of a roof on the house he now raises his son in. He was scheduled for surgery and knew that he would not be able to perform hard labor for a while.Paying It Forward - New Roof

In the spirit of “Paying It Forward,” some other community clients and the client’s AA family got together and decided to put that roof on. The Prodigal ladies got busy and provided hot dogs, chili, homemade cookies and soft drinks.

It was a great day and reminds us of why we do what we do.