Ex cons get a helping hand to rebuild life
The Rhythm Riders will perform a benefit concert for Hope, Help and Healing, a program to help men just out of prison to get their lives on track. The band is a tribute to Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline and is lead by Johnny and Dee Price.
The Rhythm Riders: Legends and Outlaws benefit concert for Hope, Help and Healing
- When: 7 p.m. Dec. 8, dinner available 5:30-6:45 p.m. from Aunt Gertie’s Hot Dogs
- Where: Parkside Church, 3885 Richardson Drive, Auburn
- Tickets: $30-$40 advance, $35-$40 at the door, available from Janece 530-308-4532 or Carol 530-305-5219 and at rhythmriderslegendsandoutlaws.brownpapertickets.com
That is what Hope, Help and Healing gives to those who have just been released from jail and need to get their life back on track.
Janece Murray, co founder of the organization with her husband Robert, started the program 20 years ago and have helped 3,200 individuals in that time.
“That number blows my mind,” Murray said.
A benefit concert for the nonprofit will take place Saturday featuring the Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline tribute band, Rhythm Riders.
Hope, Help and Healing’s Murray was a drug addict for 14 years. She got clean and became a chaplain and helped other addicted women get their lives out of trouble and into a productive life. She felt compelled to help, knowing firsthand what that lifestyle was like.
“I felt a burden in my heart to help,” she said.
In the early days of Hope, Help and Healing, Murray had homes to assist men and women recover from addiction. Today, the organization aids only men and houses them in four homes in the Auburn area, with six occupants per house.
When convicts are paroled, Murray said there is a book that is a “foot high” of programs and halfway houses they can go to.
Since Hope, Help and Healing is faith-based, a parolee from Placer County can be sent to them if the former prison inmate is interested in church, Murray said.
The state pays for the three-, six-, nine- or 12-month program. However, it isn’t just open to ex cons, a concerned family member can send a loved one to help him get clean from drugs or alcohol as well.
Once enrolled, the resident is taught life skills and is helped to get a job. He is expected to do daily chores, such as cleaning in the house and yard work. Each home has a house manager to keep all in line. All the managers are ex-clients who have been clean for three years and off parole for three years. If someone gets in trouble, then they get some positive reinforcement which “works better,” Murray said. No one is kicked out, but is helped and counseled to fix their problems and stay on course.
“We are very strict,” Murray said. “They come from a strict environment” in prison, so program participants are used to the demands.
Residents also have a Bible study in the morning and are part of a 12-step program provided by the organization’s church: Sierra Reach Ministries in Applegate.
“And we just love each one of them,” Murray said.
Each individual is taught and treated differently based on their needs and response. Murray said someone who was in prison for 20 years typically responds differently from someone who had been incarcerated for six months. With many backgrounds, personalities and past experiences, treatment is tailored for each individual.
“We teach them whatever they need to know,” Murray added.
After a resident’s term ends, he moves to another home where he pays his own rent, has a job and is still monitored 24 hours a day. After a successful period there, he may move to a third home where he is pretty much on his own, Murray said. Residents will have a job, pay for their car, pay for insurance and rent as they ease back into society as a productive member of the county.
After a participant completes of the program, there is a graduation ceremony.
About half of the residents will come back to thank Hope, Help and Healing for their helping hand, Murray said.
The program has become so successful that oftentimes there is a waiting list.
One resident had been in prison for six years before coming to Hope, Help and Healing. He responded so well to the treatment that he became a pastor and tells everyone how the program helped his life.
“He has his kids back, his wife back and is a productive member of society. He has a job and this happens a lot,” Murray said.
“It’s amazing when we see (former clients) in the parking lot or in a store and they say, ‘You have changed our life.’ It’s so wonderful. It’s a big deal,” Murray said through tears.
“All we are is the facilitators in helping them. They had to make the decision in their healing,” Murray added.
“I used to be like them so I have been in trouble too. So that is why we can relate to them,” she said.
The benefit concert will be performed by Johnny and Dee Price Dec. 8 at the Parkside Church in Auburn. To contact Hope, Help and Healing, call 530-885-4249.