November 6, 2009

Faith, Hope and Charity / David Siler

Thank you ‘nice Catholics’

David SilerThe basket will be passed down your aisle for a second time the weekend of Nov. 21 and 22. Before you let the basket pass you by—or you drop in only your spare change—I want you to remember Jeremy.

I met Jeremy a few weeks ago at his job at RecycleForce on the east side of Indianapolis after he spent 11 years in prison after being convicted of a drug charge. Jeremy did not give me the details of his arrest or his long years in various prisons because he wanted me to understand that his focus was completely on his efforts to put his life back together.

Jeremy just gushed with gratitude for the chance that he has been given to earn an honest day’s wage (although a very meager wage by most measures), and learn some skills that just might land him a better paying job in the future.

Jeremy, now 36, admitted he had never held a “real job.” He said that he would do anything to avoid giving his freedom away again, and that RecycleForce was an answer to his prayers.

After serving a felony conviction, it is nearly impossible to find any kind of steady, honest employment.

RecycleForce, a division of Workforce Inc., was established several years ago to provide jobs for ex-felons who want to put their life back on track.

Their unique business is to recycle computers and other electronic equipment. It certainly is not glamorous work, but provides an opportunity for these often forgotten members of society to “exercise their work muscle”—as founder Gregg Keissling likes to say. At the same time, it provides a very valuable service for our environment—a truly green business.

You probably didn’t know it, but your contribution last year to the Catholic Campaign for Human Development allowed our archdiocese to provide a $30,000 grant to RecycleForce so that Jeremy and about 30 other men could have a real chance of staying away from a life of crime.

I explained to Jeremy, who is not Catholic, that the Catholic Church takes up a collection every year for programs like RecycleForce. Through this collection, we help people help themselves find a way out of a life of poverty. He asked me to be sure to “tell all those nice Catholics that they helped save my life.”

Here you go, Jeremy—they have just been thanked.

You might also remember the children of Chauncey Rose Middle School in Terre Haute, located in one of the poorest areas of the city.

Your contributions last year provided funding to the Ryves Neighborhood Association, who organized the neighborhood to save the school from closing. They, too, want to thank you.

Please be generous again this year. There are many more Jeremy’s and children who need us.

To learn more about the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, visit To learn more about RecycleForce, go to

(David Siler is executive director of the Secretariat for Catholic Charities and Family Ministries. E-mail him at

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