What happens when the wind blows and I have no jacket to keep me warm?
What happens when I feel down and you're not there to make me feel up?
What happens to me?
What happens when at night I open my eyes just to see you're not there?
I can feel you, but I just can't see, I just can't, so what happens?
Michael Lockhart was 12 years old when he read this poem he had written for his father’s funeral. His father, known on the streets of West Philadelphia as MG (“Major Gansta”), had been shot 22 times with an AK-47.
Nobody in his family, according to an article in the Philadelphia Daily News, was surprised when young Michael, accompanied by his brother, a friend, and a 9mm Glock robbed some Temple University students, a few years later.
Michael’s family is no stranger to prisons. His father and three of his uncles have served time in prison. Michael’s brother is doing time as well.
Violence, drugs, and imprisonment are what face many of today’s youth that are born to families that lack positive male role models.
How important is a positive father figure in a young person’s life? Well, studies show that youths who grow up without a father in their life are more than 15 times more likely to end up in prison while a teenager.
Michael’s mother puts it this way, “If you’re rich and you go to Harvard, your kid goes to Harvard. . . if your daddy hustles, your son gonna grind. In our family we call it the generational curse.”
But there is a happy ending to this particular story.
Michael has DECIDED (he made a conscious CHOICE) that he is not his father and that he can, and indeed is breaking that generational curse. In his words, “People use their childhood as an excuse. It’s not an excuse.”
He insists that he will NOT become his father.
After Michael was released from Glen Mills Schools, a reform school in Delaware County, he participated in a Philadelphia Anti-Drug/Anti-Violence Network. His mom and instructors convinced him that he could break the cycle of violence and end the generational curse.
Michael has since acquired his GED and works as a landscaper for the city. He works with the Department of Behavioral Health speaking to groups about preventing gun violence.
What can we do to create more stories or redemption like Michael’s? It’s simple: we, as individuals, can become involved with and invest in more programs such as the Philadelphia Anti-Drug/Anti-Violence Network.
I am reminded of the old man who walked the beach and threw random starfish back into the sea that had been trapped on the beach by the tide. He knew he couldn’t save them all, but was satisfied to save those he could—one at a time. To each starfish he was able to save he made a difference.
Interested in making a difference right here in Las Vegas? I invite you to take a look at what is becoming a model for prison reentry: Hope for Prisoners. Hope for Prisoners strives to restore and reunite the family. Their focus is to break, once and for all, the generational curse and establish a new family tree going forward that will have God’s blessing.
Would you like to play an important role in the life of a man or woman who is striving to break the generational curse and create a brand new family tree of joy, happiness and love?
Please contact Hope for Prisoners today for information on how you can help to restore a family and play a significant role in changing a family tree. This may be the most rewarding decision you will ever make.
You can check them out online at www.hopeforprisoners.org.
I will be writing about Hope for Prisoners in future blogs.
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about this fantastic organization.
Jim Henry, Hope for Prisoners, Job Developer