No Longer A Statistic
Several years ago, GUM started a recycling business to create jobs and encourage economic development in our community. Entrepreneurship has always been a vital component of our ministry. When we started Go Green Galveston (G3), we were not fully aware of what we could accomplish. After the first start-up year, and going through several G3 staff, we finally developed a solid team. Our truck was an older 1990 F-250 with homemade sidewalls (which was just recently replaced by a 14ft dump truck). G3 has seen amazing growth in such a short time!
While we love caring for creation, we love seeing men developed even more! G3 has grown from 40 customers in 2015 to over 150 customers today! More customers means more income, which in turn creates more work and more jobs. In 2015, our G3 staff were working about 10-15 hours a week. Now, they are working 30-40 hours every week.
Rene, our G3 coordinator, is GUM's most recent full-time salaried employee. This is where it gets really exciting. As the title of the newsletter reads, "no longer a statistic," Rene WAS that statistic. According to the National Institute of Justice, "within three years of release, about two-thirds (67.8 percent) of released prisoners are re-arrested." That number is staggering. Those who are incarcerated know these numbers, and are released into our community believing that their chances of success are marginal. Enter Rene. Rene was hired almost three years ago. He came to GUM for a parenting class, and was also looking for work. Over the past few years, we have been able to develop a wonderful relationship with Rene. He has spoken at local conferences and shared his story with business men and women. He will tell you, "GUM doesn't just recycle materials, it's recycling men." Rene enjoys sharing that "even though I was locked up, Jesus set me free!" He sees each day as a new opportunity to share his story with others, and to continue the legacy he is now living.
And, the story continues. About a month ago, Rene walked into the office beaming with pride (the healthy kind) and humility, wanting everyone to know he "made it." Rene had spent the majority of his youth and adult life in some sort of state facility, and now he's working full-time coordinating G3.
No one wants to be a statistic, yet, we do this to people all the time. We can generalize an entire demographic by reducing people to a number. Forgetting that people are individuals with stories, individuals created in the image of God. I am grateful this Christmas season to be a part of breaking down statistics to celebrate what transformation and restoration really look like. Jesus came so that we may have life, and live that life to the fullest.
Galveston Urban Ministries