It is that time of year! What we now call “Cookies for Corrections” began as Cookies for Max over two decades ago. In the beginning religious volunteers took homemade cookies that had been divided up from the dozens of recipes cooked by church members throughout the Treasure Valley. It was quite the treat shared with a “Merry Christmas!" and “God Bless!". That was at Idaho Maximum Security Institution (IMSI) where the population was only about 500.
In my efforts to support those who leave incarceration daily in Idaho I hear all kinds of stories about the shortcomings of the prison system. Here is a classic: As I write this there is a lady sitting in Ada County jail for over 30 days now. She is on felony probation. She has been taken into custody for the charge of voting in the last election while still on parole.
Those who read my words and know me understand how I like to speak about the progress we as returning citizens are making in support of those who follow us back into community. There has been progress! I am listing three examples which all will learn more about in the coming months. Mark and Mark have joined forces. As the picture suggests Mark Person and Mark Renick are working together.
4 Years in a Row for Recover Out Loud It was a cold and windy Friday night in February in Idaho Falls (seems like they all are from my experience). Yet I was honored to attend such a nice event where the community comes together for those who come out of incarceration and struggle with issues dealing with addiction. Congrats to Stephanie Taylor – Silva for being the force behind this yearly event.
Idaho Falls February 25, 2022 The date for this event has been changed to COVID as so many events in our world these days. It should be a must evening for those in Eastern Idaho who have been incarcerated and/or struggle with addiction. It is a yearly event. This year it will be held at the Bennion Student Union Building on the campus of Idaho State University in Idaho Falls. It is a celebration of the process of returning to community.
Are you ready for the new year Idahoans? I hope so because it should be a great one for returning citizens and those who love and support them! In 2021 with the burden of COVID we made great strides! Just a few of those include: Expanded Cookies for Corrections program. More institutions this year and more than 200,000 distributed New board members and staff for New Hope Christian Ministries (our parent 503C3 organization).
Christmas 2021 and a very Merry Christmas to all! Please take the time to remember what we celebrate this season. It is the birth of our Savior. Please do not be timid in that belief. Should you be unsure…. consider a dialogue with a loving God who wants a personal relationship with you! The theme of this month’s blog is to encourage you to become active in supporting those who have been incarcerated.
Each Christmas season has familiar traditions which we all can identify. For me one of the best has always been Cookies for Max! The tradition began inside the walls of the Idaho Maximum Security Institution (IMSI) where cookies from all over the Treasure Valley were gathered and distributed by religious volunteers a few days before Christmas. Those who live inside Max for the most part are restricted to their cells 23 hours a day for seven days a week.
People who have heard me speak know I always address the need to form partnerships with those who can speak to the needs of the folks returning to our communities from incarceration. One strong group should be those who face the challenge of addiction in the past or current. Several of us had the chance to connect with 35 other states in Las Vegas a few days ago. As usual Idaho lags behind the efforts of other states.
Certainly, those who know me or listen to me at meetings, in person or sometimes on the radio that one of the themes that I share is the need to build coalitions. We have been trying to do that for over six years in the Treasure Valley. I do believe we are making progress. An event happened on July 29th that addresses the issue of importance for this effort to be statewide.