Since 2011, numerous inmates at a local correctional facility have volunteered to help us with our prosthetic limb recycling program. I recently took a few hours to meet with some of the newer men working there, and listened to their journeys. Once qualifying for this unique program hosted by Core-Civic (formerly known as Corrections Corporation of America.), these men disassemble used limbs donated from all over the country, in order to recycle all the usable parts (feet, pylons, knees, connectors, adapters, and even screws).
Tom* serves as the current team leader in the shop. His time there is nearly over and he feels ready to rebuild his life outside of prison. In a powerful intersection of Standing With Hope’s prosthetic limb and caregiver outreaches, Tom shared about his wife, who was an amputee, and how he served as her caregiver for many years. As you can imagine, his story connected with me.
Several years ago, Tom’s wife’s health declined significantly and Tom’s own health deteriorated, as well. He medicated his stress with substance abuse; taking him into dark places. When she passed away, Tom spiraled out of control and made choices that landed him in prison. “Peter, the stress I felt as a caregiver took me down. I simply couldn’t handle it,” he stated frankly. Clean and sober, Tom has a new outlook on life. Sitting quietly in the shop, surrounded by a table full of prosthetics in various stages of deconstruction. Tom added, “While I don’t like being locked up, I am grateful I’m here.” “If I weren’t here, I’d have crawled into a bottle and would be dead today. I was that self-destructive.”
A Prisoner ...and Yet
When Tom arrived in prison, he heard about Standing With Hope’s limb recycling program, and knew it fit him perfectly. His release date is soon; one of his first tasks when he is out is to donate his wife’s prosthetic limb to our program. While Tom’s journey includes harsh experiences, he continues to face life with courage, along with a conviction that he is in a better place—even while in prison. Although incarcerated, Tom emanates a freedom that seems to elude so many who’ve never even seen the inside of a correctional facility. After praying together, I drove home from the prison with a sense of awe at the amazing, redemptive work of Christ—manifested in a workshop buried in the center of a prison.
For the Lord hears the needy and does not despise his own people who are prisoners. Psalm 69:33 ESV
Resin and Supplies
Periodically, large amounts of acrylic resin with a harder (catalyst) require purchasing, in order for the technicians to make quality prosthetic sockets for each patient. We recycle so many parts of a prosthetic legs, but we must purchase resin. Not only do we have to purchase it, but we need to ship it, along with the parts we recycle. Because the resin is a hazardous material, it’s expensive to ship. The immediate need for purchasing and shipping the resin, along with the parts through our inmate recycling program: $6,500 . Click here to donate towards this expense.
Both the prosthetic limb outreach AND the radio show for caregivers, reflect our desire to model 2 Corinthians 1:3-4,
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”
*Permission was granted to use name, story, and photos