Ignacio Honored at Going Home Consortium Fundraiser

Ignacio Honored at Going Home Consortium Fundraiser

Hawaii Tribune Herald- 08/08/12 - by Yisa Var - A second chance can change a life. As I sat and listened to Carol Ignacio speak about forgiveness and second chances at a recent fundraiser for the Going Home Consortium, part of HIWEDO, which helps prison inmates reintegrate into society, I could not help but be moved by her words. Carol’s life’s work, as evidence by those who shared their own experiences of the many programs she has pioneered, has been to open her heart and find ways to create programs that help the poor, the hungry, the homeless and now those who want to change their lives around after serving jail time.

Having had my home burglarized last year and my parent’s home robbed, with my dad held at gunpoint, two years before that, forgiveness for criminals was not high on my to-do list. Drugs seemed to be the motivation behind the crimes against us — the criminals were most likely addicts and willing to do harm to others to feed their own monsters. Having been somewhat of a rule follower my whole life — I never got in trouble in school, I got good grades, never broke the law and certainly never intentionally hurt others — I didn’t quite understand the criminal mind, that is, until I receive a crash course in crime victim 101.

But here I was, in a room filled with political officials, successful businessmen and women, and convicted felons and past drug addicts. Everyone had come together to raise money for a program that is changing lives and helping to create opportunities for people who are willing to work hard and make a new life for themselves beyond the prison bars. It was obvious to me in that moment that it was time to open my mind and heart and give forgiveness a chance.

As each person spoke throughout the evening’s event, I learned more about the Hawaii Island Workforce and Economic Development Ohana (HIWEDO), the Going Home program and the Hope Services, as they called it, which is helping to get people who have been recently released from prison back on their feet with rent deposits, help with finding a job, job training and much more. People who have been through the program offered up emotional testimonials as to its success in allowing them that second chance to stay clean and sober, find ways to be self-sufficient and productive members of society and begin putting the pieces of their lives back together. It was inspiring!

With the state of prisons being so overcrowded and the accommodations not as conducive to rehabilitation as they probably should be at many facilities, it’s no wonder that people are struggling upon release. How can you expect someone to change when they are going in with the mindset that it is somehow okay to hurt others, steal from others, and break the law, in order to meet their own personal agenda? Putting them in a box for a few months or a few years in an environment that is not peaceful, not educational and not safe is setting them up to fail in the real world. I have never been to jail myself, but it isn’t hard to imagine the conditions of a crowded jail cell and how things could go terribly wrong in such close quarters with people who are used to fighting for what they want or just taking in.

It is because I don’t fully understand what inmates go through that makes me want to forgive and support that second chance — third and fourth chances, probably not so much! But I have been given many second chances in my life, do-overs, or a chance to make a better decision, not just for me, but also for my entire family and everyone who cares about me. Going Home Consortium is actually going into the facilities and connecting with inmates and making this happen. I tip my hat to their valiant efforts and wish them much success, as through their work, they are also keeping my family and me safe in the long run.

There is no overall solution and not everyone can be helped or rehabilitated, but at least someone is out there trying — one inmate at a time.

Link to article at Big Island Weekly

Yisa Var. “Ka `ikena - A second chance can change a life” Big Island Weekly, 08 Aig. 2012.http://bigislandweekly.com/news/ka-ikena-73.html