LETTER FROM A REFORMED CAREER CRIMINAL
To whom it may concern:
When I first heard of HOPE-HOWSE and its founder, Jane Davis, I was serving what was my fourth incarceration in my long, criminal career. Years of incarceration left me both cynical and suspicious. I also believed that no one cared about people like me.
Naturally, when news of Jane Davis and an all volunteer group called HOPE-HOWSE reached me I groaned inwardly. What would make this Jane Davis any different from the other “do-gooders” that come into the prisons to proselytize? As President of the Self-Help group the Black Awareness Group (BAG) I was obligated to research and support anything that might better the men and myself. Nothing could have prepared me for my meeting with this persistent, passionate and unstoppable force of nature called “Jane Davis”.
We learned that this woman standing before us had seen, heard and experienced so much drama and trauma in her own walk that we felt nothing but respect for her. She’d seen her grandparents after they were brutalized but could feel an overriding compassion and curiosity for the perpetrator. She had been asked by members of families of men on death row as well as the men themselves to be present as a witness to their executions.
Jane made it clear that we are all the same and connected as human beings. She refused to be political or religious, per se, though she was well versed and thoroughly familiar with both. Jane was able to reach every one of the inmate self help groups and become a sponsor to three of the five helping to organize and coordinate events, programs and classes. She created “HH presents Concerts in the Yard” and got the local musicians to donate their time to come in and bring us music on a monthly basis. This is the quiet, steadfast power of Jane Davis and all of us who were part of her work were blessed with hopefulness.
Personally I was motivated by her to want to get out of prison and give back to the community. She instilled dreams that I thought were not possible for me anymore, being a 58 year old career convict.
Jane opened her home to me as she has done to many before me in an act of “walking the talk” and brought the community together for weekly meetings which resulted in my being gainfully employed, getting my own apartment and a car. Initially Jane gave me a bicycle and a cell phone to function in today’s world. Jane always reminded me that it was me who had to do the work. She empowered me to the point that I have been out of prison for two years, a miracle for me.
I can’t help but marvel at the energy, courage and unyielding determination shown by Jane. Oblivious to the negative opinions of others she forges ahead with her ideals and beliefs in all of us. She does not accept excuses for wrongdoings and holds everyone accountable for their actions.
Her vision of One Heart Ranch, a 30 acre sustainable sanctuary where people, including those coming out of prison, can go for respite is growing with the same potential and passion that Jane has evolved HOPE-HOWSE with. I was privileged to help build the 3-tiered fire circle that brings people of all walks of life together.
No one I have ever met has consistently demonstrated, by being a living example, the reality that she brings into life. I am just one of many who have been touched by her. She is a true hero, a lone warrior who gives help, hope, strength and support to those who society wants to ignore and throw away.
No matter the situation, Jane has a way of offering suggestions that allow those facing serious issues to think of ways to help themselves resolve their issues in a peaceful way. She will not tolerate self-pity, drugs or alcohol.
I am honored and profoundly enriched to be able to consider myself a friend to Jane Davis. God bless her.
Caldwell Hudson Jr.