December 17, 2021

Corrections Corner / Ed Witulski

Friendships formed through program ‘change lives forever’

Ed Witulski(This is another in a series of columns written by a person returning from incarceration who took a chance and asked to be matched with a mentor through the Trusted Mentors program, which for more than 17 years has connected and trained volunteer mentors with at-risk adults [mentees] to help keep them housed and out of prison. The column was contributed by Ed Witulski, the Mentors Match Coordinator for Trusted Mentors who is a member of the archdiocese’s Corrections Ministry Advisory Committee. He is also a member of St. Monica Parish in Indianapolis.)

My name is Jeff. I am a 2020 graduate of Changing Lives Forever (CLF), a classroom program through the Society of St. Vincent DePaul designed to assist those attempting to step out of homelessness or poverty back into society.

2020 was a challenging year due to the COVID-19 pandemic looming over us. The year, however, allowed me to finish something of self-purpose. As classes were canceled due to the uncertainty in our lives, it gave me the pleasure of graduating from a program as helpful as CLF.

 During the period when there were no classes—and then when classes were held virtually—I pondered for the longest time whether I should finish the program. I considered and reconsidered and, finally, decided to finish. As a result, I gained a great mentor in a gentleman named Ken. Anyone who knows understands that I’ve always been a mentor of others, but I never really considered myself to be a mentee.

Ken and I share the same interest in the food/culinary world. He runs his own business, and I operate a small catering service. Our family dynamics are very similar. Ken and I try to meet by FaceTime, via text or through phone calls with one another. Lately, it’s been kind of rough keeping routine meetings due to my working out of town three days a week while working another full-time job. I don’t take our time for granted, however, once we link up. It shows me that I can continue to have faith that there are still great people in the world.

Ken is a good man. He listens to my concerns, and he also gives me input on how to grow my business on my tight schedule. Although we both come from different religious backgrounds, we believe that there is a bigger purpose for our lives.

We don’t say who is right or wrong. Instead, we embrace our beliefs and learn from them. Ken shared the book No More Excuses: Be the Man God Made You to Be by Tony Evans as a gift. It led me to know that Ken is more than my mentor: he is my brother in Christ and he cares about my well-being and my spiritual walk.
 

(Ninety-five percent of all state prisoners will be released at some point. Please consider becoming a mentor by contacting Trusted Mentors at 317-985-5041. If you believe that role is not a good fit, please pray for our returning citizens as they struggle to reintegrate into society.)

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