In a concerted effort between the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), the Kingdom Builders Network, and Circle of Hope, we made the most of the Mass Incarceration Service Day on Dr. King’s birthday. ChiChi Oguekwe, MCC’s Philadelphia Program Coordinator, played a critical role in making the annual event six times the size of last year’s.
Dani Vasquez, Bethany Stewart, Phil Walton, and Gina Giusto (the Compassion Core) of Circle of Hope led us to purchase, gather, and assemble 567 MCC Prisoner Care Kits. In a recent post by Jonny Rashid, he eloquently shares that “the problem [with mass incarceration] is epic. It’s important to know its magnitude, but knowing its magnitude can make one feel overwhelmed. You might feel like you can’t do anything about it. There are things we can do.”
Over 300 people came throughout the day. We began with a 90min panel discussion and dialogue on Mass Incarceration that included lots of personal stories of what it’s like inside the system for different kinds of people. People came from as far as Lancaster Co. and different parts of Philadelphia, including an incredible turnout by high school students.
While we pray and work for systemic change, this experience touched hearts and minds of many people who now have more empathy and motivation to care about people who have been incarcerated. We hope that these care kit gifts are both symbolic of our love as well as provide items that build the dignity of inmates and those re-entering life on the outside. Thanks for making the event so meaningful! Let’s keep up the good work!
Thanks for the photos, Kris Eden!