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05 May, 2016

RECONNECTING DISCONNECTED SOULS: THE "COMMUNITY FORGIVENESS AND RESTORATION" INITIATIVE

            According to the International Centre for Prison Studies located in London in the United Kingdom, approximately 10.1 million souls are languishing in prisons throughout our global village.  But let’s bring this closer to home.  In the United States, it is estimated that at least approximately 2,239,751 souls are incarcerated.  At least approximately 1.7 American children have a parent who is incarcerated.  Many of the  2,239,751 incarcerated souls in the United States are parents.  They are somebody’s Father . . . somebody’s Mother.  For the most part, these Fathers and Mothers are as much emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually disconnected from their children as they are physically disconnected.    Each year, approximately 600,000 souls are released  from correctional facilities throughout the United States.  So, every year, 600,000 traumatized and spiritually, psychologically, emotionally disconnected souls return to our families and our communities.   And the communities that these souls return to, by and large, are equally spiritually, psychologically, and emotionally toxic.    


            The thought of disconnected souls pouring into our communities, raising our children – our babies –the village’s Next Generation of Leaders, Husbands, Fathers, Wives, and Mothers, and returning to the workforce as they struggle to make a life for themselves deeply troubled Thomas E. Robinson, Ph.D., D. Min.   It was this deeply troubling thought that propelled Dr. Robinson to create the “Community Forgiveness And Restoration” Initiative.  The Initiative is designed to help the disconnected souls emerging from correctional facilities heal their deep seated spiritual, emotional, and psychological wounds created by a lifetime of trauma that is exacerbated by years of institutionalization.  Dr. Robinson clearly understands that incarcerated Men and Women did not emerge from the womb as disconnected souls with criminal intent.  They emerged from the womb as “whole souls” who were insatiably curious, bright-eyed, spontaneous, creative, compassionate,  loving and trusting.   He has counseled incarcerated souls at SCI Graterford, the largest maximum security prison for men in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Dr. Robinson has assisted these souls in identifying and developing coping skills from their childhood traumas, personality disorders, suicide, depression, abandonment and separation disorders.  He has also assisted these souls with career choices, parenting skills, financial responsibility, entrepreneurship skills and legal issues.  Dr. Robinson has crafted  the “Community Forgiveness And Restoration” Initiative with two components – a Faith-Based Re-entry Program component and an Education component which familiarizes the general public with legislative and political issues directly and indirectly connected to criminal justice and prison reform, the return of rehabilitated citizens, public safety, crime prevention, and alternative faith-based solutions to mass incarceration.  He is bringing together Christians and Muslims through his mission  to provide disconnected souls with the tools they will need to reconnect to their destiny . . . their true purpose for occupying this space and place in the Universe we know as Planet Earth.  

Now, Dr. Robinson is not stepping out on faith alone to reconnect disconnected souls and transform our spiritually, emotionally, and psychologically toxic communities into a nurturing, self-sustaining and vibrant oasis.   On the evening of Monday,  2 May 2016, clergy, social entrepreneurs, community leaders, journalists, and concerned citizens throughout the City of Philadelphia—the fifth largest metropolitan area in the United States -- gathered at the Greater Commission Church located in the city’s West Oak Lane section and stepped out on faith with Dr. Robinson to launch the “Community Forgiveness And Restoration” Initiative.  The business of reconnecting disconnected souls is an “all hands on deck” proposition.   After successfully undergoing a vetting process and training session, male mentors will go into SCI Graterford to assist incarcerated souls on their journey to spiritual, psychological, and emotional healing.  Female mentors who have been successfully vetted and undergone a training session will work with members of the households to which the incarcerated souls will return

 If we are to end the hopelessness . . . the violence . . . the chaos . . . .  that is choking the life out of everyone and everything in our communities, we must change mindsets. And the “Community Forgiveness And Restoration” Initiative will do exactly that.

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