My hat goes off to Wendy Knight, Superintendent of the 1,500 inmate Plainfield Correctional Facility. Her staff partnered with a small army of volunteers and the staff from All Pro Dad to host an amazing one day event inside the prison. Correctional officers, prisoner administrators and over 300 inmates packed into the facility to hear a strong message on responsible fatherhood from a wide variety of speakers, including Indiana Department of Corrections Commissioner Ed Buss. The highlight of the event was when former Indianapolis Colts and Super Bowl Winner,Tony Dungy took the stage and discussed his role mentoring young men in the NFL. All 300 inmates read Coach Dungy’s book “Uncommon” and three of the inmates joined him on stage as part of the Q & A. A few of the questions asked included:
- Upon our Re-Entry into society what can we do that will allow us to begin developing a positive relationship with our community?
- Do you feel it is possible to be a positive role model while incarcerated?
- If for years a man has failed to show integrity, is it possible for him to begin to live as a man of integrity?
Coach Dungy said that he "applauds President Obama for being such a great example of responsible fatherhood." I also had the opportunity to meet with Tonya Hill who coordinates volunteers for the Marion County Juvenile Detention Center who remarkably has grown her volunteer base from 100 to 500. These volunteers provide whole host of services for inmates including career preparedness, physical and mental health and physical support.
Coach Dungy talked about the challenges of balancing his demanding schedule with being a committed husband and father to his six children. He also discussed his commitment to visiting prisoners and encouraging them to be the best dads that they can be.
All Pro Dads and volunteer chaplains are following up with this group of 300 men to assist them to serve as peer leaders at the prison and with their re-entry plans. I was pleased to be able to represent the White House Faith-Based & Neighborhood Partnerships and the Department of Justice at this outstanding and important event.
Eugene Schneeberg is the Director of the Center for Faith-based and Community Initiatives at the Department of Justice.