Guest blogger Rick Mooneyham discusses his work with WhyTry as a volunteer:
I have been volunteering at the South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice for over 15 years. The purpose is to encourage juveniles to not reoffend by changing their path in life. This has led me to the South Carolina Department of Corrections, as at age 17 they are transferred there for the remainder of their juvenile term or come back after 17 as a reoffender. Now I serve as a volunteer chaplain at SCDC. At both agencies, I get to teach classes in spiritual development, anger management and lifestyle living. When I was introduced to WhyTry in 2007 by Erika Joye and Christian Moore, it fit like a glove!
I have been blessed to be able to go to many of the 29 SCDC facilities and at many I have been allowed to take my laptop in to the facility to use the WhyTry Program with all ages, individually and in classes.
In my desire to reduce the number of youth going into DJJ, we were given 70 used computers which we reconditioned and have put in churches across South Carolina for the purpose of tutoring elementary youth in reading and math. In the beginning I went to one and used WhyTry with second through fifth graders for 10 weeks. The next week I went back and asked if anyone could remember any of the pictures we talked about. Excitedly, they named every picture and explained how it gave them opportunity, freedom and self-respect!
I have used it with classes of men preparing to leave incarceration in the hopes of reducing recidivism and with classes of young women inmates in the hopes of reducing violence within the institution. I have introduced it to another young man who does afternoon programs to deter youth from activity putting them in jeopardy of incarceration.
The WhyTry Program has been received well by all ages, they have participated easily, given attention without prodding, and many of the men have responded with, “Why did I not see or realize this sooner?” I saw many of the class of elementary youth twelve months later and did the program again, but they told more of the program than I did. As for those in SCDC, I have no way of measuring, for many have left incarceration and I have no way of tracking. I do know most of the programs they use have been in place for many years with little or no change whether they are working or not. Each time I have used WhyTry, the participants are amazed at the simplicity, truth and how they see their own life as it was throughout the program.
Again I am thrilled at Christian’s ability in the midst of his disability to provide such a program that offers a real way to produce change in opportunity, freedom and self-respect to a group of people society many times has forgotten about.
Rick Mooneyham is a director at Barnabas Ministries and a dedicated volunteer in South Carolina’s justice system. Special thanks for his willingness to share his experiences with WhyTry.