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​Love Paves Bridges to Compassion


Our guest author today, Pattie Williams is co-coordinator of the Social Justice Sector for the Charter for Compassion. She is also one of the original members of Compassionate Fayetteville, AR, USA, and continues to be involved in racial and social justice issues and dialogues associated with the local compassionate initiative. Belay and Shinita Kimbrough-Reddick, of whom she writes of in this article, have also recently become much appreciated team members of the Social Justice Sector.

How do compassion-bridge-builders pave the bridge with love? What follows is a living, vibrant example of the power of love, commitment, and resilience between two people that have paved several bridges to compassion.

To feel the power of this love, for a moment:
Imagine being a man sentenced to federal prison with a long sentence for a small white-collar crime---20 years. How would you feel? What would you decide to do with your life?

Now imagine being a woman on the outside of prison who reconnects with this man, falls in love, and then decides to advocate over and over for his early release…this man who started mentoring programs inside and outside the prison?
How would you feel? What would move you to action? What would be your level of commitment?
Now imagine the power, love, and resilience of this couple getting married on the day of his early release; the result of their combined efforts---15 months early---and then committing themselves to building bridges of compassion in our world. What motivates their commitment?

Dr. Belay Reddick (Doctor of Divinity and Doctor of Humane Letters) and Shinita Kimbrough-Reddick, members of the Charter Social Justice team are this loving couple. Their story is an inspiration about bringing compassion to life in so many ways.
Everyday Solace Foundation, Inc. is Shinita's initiative that evolved out of her grieving the death of her mother. Her book and journal Brokenhearted Disciple: Confessions for Overcoming, and her website, offer resources to touch and support families and friends whose loved ones are incarcerated, as well as others who grieve. Shinita works for the city of Dallas, Texas, and is a Grant Compliance Specialist.

In a challenging inner journey, Belay came to terms with his sentence. This resulted in him starting many initiatives, while still in prison, such as facilitating empowerment workshops, and co-hosting local leaders as well as 12 senior Obama officials at the Great Debate and Reentry Forum. Belay developed a trusting relationship with Danquirs Franklin, a young man who was struggling to stay in school, and helped him flourish and graduate. The couple's book There's No Danger in the Water: Encouraging Black Men to Become Mentors was published in 2013, while Belay was still incarcerated. In his 2020 book, Now, Let Me Tell You How I Really Feel, Belay opens up about losing Danquirs, whom he never met in person, at the hands of gun violence.

It is 1 year since Belay's release. Living in Fort Worth, Texas, Belay and Shinita's love and determination paved a bridge to the Inaugural Community Resource Day 2021, held at the William McDonald YMCA, to offer resources to those released from prison, at imminent risk of recidivism, and to persons who need information regarding services available.

Planning this event in the span of 1 month, Belay, with the support of his employer FedEx, personally connected with community leaders and volunteers. He enlisted the help of 35 organizations offering resources: 5 food trucks, 17 sponsors and more than 25 partners, including Compassionate Dallas Fort Worth (DFW). Two companies created t-shirt designs and Shinita created a website for the event. 

This inspiring 3 ½ hour event included recently elected Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker, who pledged support for reentry resources. Community leaders praised this first Community Resource Day. Numerous plaques acknowledged community members and volunteers. Many individuals shared information on accessing available resources. One Gospel singing group, as well as national recording artist CeCe Godbolt, performed and recited stories of resilience, uplifting those in attendance. Topeka K. Sam, who since her 2015 release, has initiated The Ladies of Hope Ministry, shared her story.

One highlight of the event was the honoring of activist Opal Lee, 94, "Grandmother of the Juneteenth Movement," who tirelessly advocated for Juneteenth to become a national holiday. She was at the White House with President Biden last month when he signed the legislation establishing the new federal holiday.

This love, that began in prison, continues and keeps paving bridges of compassion.

Thank you, Shinita and Belay!

Pattie Williams
Co-lead for the
Social Justice Sector at the Charter for Compassion

This message from Pattie William, Co-coordinator for the Social Justice Sector at the Charter for Compassion, appears in our 08/01/2021 weekly newsletter. To sign up for our newsletter, scroll all the way down to the end of this page to get to the bottom menu, in the newsletter section enter your email address and click on subscribe. 

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