My time to leave East Allen Dismas House has come with a predictable bittersweet feeling. Going home is always a nice feeling, but I know that I will miss the large number of inspiring people that I’ve met here.
Everyday I have been humbled by the determination and grit shown by the residents I have shared a home with for the last 4 months. Never again will I take things like holding down a job, having a roof over my head, people that care about me, my health or my happiness for granted. Daily stories of individual’s progress in their job search, with their sobriety, with restoring family relationships or with their parole proceedings have made my stay here far more rewarding than I could have imagined.
People who have been incarcerated are too often condemned to be personified by this one mark on their history; having lived with some of these people I know that they are much more than this single characteristic, and should be judged in spite of it, rather than because of it. The work of volunteers, donors, staff and supporters give these men hope and encouragement that should not be understated. My hat goes off to all of you that I had the pleasure of meeting and working with, for your continual efforts. Keep doing what you do. The large network of support that Dismas House provides is the main constant for some of the residents and is very important.
Know that I go home invigorated to tell people of the important work that Dismas does and my pride in being a small part of it. I am so grateful that amid the many horrors that we hear about in the news, there are people doing small yet amazing things right under our noses. Whether it is for a dinner at Dismas House or a cup of tea in London, I’d love to see you all again.
Michael Jakob resided at East Allen Dismas this fall as a member of an international volunteer organization, Volunteers For Peace. Michael lives in London, England.