Helping people put their lives back together provides inspiration

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 12, 2008

Five months ago, Major Philip Herbert, the warden at the St. John Parish Correctional Center, asked if I would consider doing a weekly AA meeting at the facility. I told him I would get one started, but would get different people to conduct the meeting each week. I really didn’t want to commit myself to one night a week.

The meetings are held each Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. We average about 20 inmates a week who volunteer to attend. I have to confess that the meetings are not typical AA meetings. We are more of a peer support group, preparing men to re-enter society and be productive, law-abiding citizens, making a positive influence in their communities.

Most of the men have a very low self-image. The first step is to encourage them to develop a healthy self-esteem.

Speaking publicly is one of the biggest fears of most people, especially people with a low self-image, so I ask each of them to approach the podium, give their name, and share about their good qualities. It’s amazing how each one enjoys participating.

Over the five months, I haven’t missed a meeting. I look forward to seeing the men each week and, believe me, I get more out of the meetings than anyone else. The excitement of seeing men, with their lives in shambles, making a little progress in, maybe, becoming the godly men they were created to be is a blessing.

This past Wednesday, I asked if anyone cared to address the group and share their most memorable Christmas. The last to speak was a 19-year-old man who has been in jail a few times. His remarks were short and sincere as he said, “I can’t remember ever having a nice Christmas.”

The meetings have become a big part of my week. The Bible says that we are to visit the imprisoned. I thank God that Sheriff Wayne Jones has allowed me that privilege. A special thanks to Sergeant L. J. Joseph who supervises the meetings and takes an active part in them.

If you have any questions, or comments, please write to Get High on Life, P.O. Drawer U, Reserve, LA 70084, call (985) 652-8477, or e-mail: