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Forgiven, not forgotten

"Forgiven, not forgotten" Continued...

Issue: "Profiles in effective compassion," Sept. 26, 2009

Darlyn White, the prison's administrator, says she's open to the ministry returning and says she hopes the men will keep in touch with their children. White believes in the Christian-based nature of the program and says her church donated $1,700 toward covering the camp's cost. "We're not so naïve to think that every one of these men is going to change, but Jesus says He goes after the one lost sheep," says White. "These are our lost sheep-and if we can save one, we're going to do it."

The day winds down with quiet time for fathers to talk with their children, and with a balloon release in a tiny outdoor courtyard surrounded by towering walls. As the families watch the colorful balloons dot a blackening sky, some wipe away tears. In a few moments, the day will be over. The children will be gone.

The last few minutes are difficult, and some fathers cry harder than their children. Barnes and Williams gather the men to encourage them to build on what they've started today, and promise to pray for them. "I love every one of you," says Barnes. "You're my daddies at Maury now."

For Sutton, saying goodbye was hard, but the dad who initially wasn't sure what he'd say sent his daughter home with this handwritten message on the back of a frame holding a picture of the pair: "I give you my all/I am there to pick you up when you fall/In flesh or in spirit/In chains or free/I will love you forever/I will be a better me."
For more information on this year's Hope Award for Effective Compassion and to read profiles of other nominated organizations from this year and previous years, click here.

Forgiven Ministry

• First six months of 2009:

- 1,133 inmates, children, and families served at 14 camps;

- 1,256 camp volunteers, most from local churches

• Serves both men and women inmates

• Maintains "The Adams Center," a facility for families visiting inmates in area prisons

• Winner of Texas Governor's Criminal Justice Volunteer Service Award for "Best Family Program"

2008 income: $327,291

2008 expenses: $298,530

Jamie Dean
Jamie Dean

Jamie lives and works in North Carolina, where she covers the national political beat and other topics as news editor for WORLD. Follow Jamie on Twitter @deanworldmag.

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