Our Story (cont'd)
The boy’s spirit of humility and hope in the face of his circumstances, took ahold of Ron, and their lives became forever intertwined.
Although Ron had never visited a prison and knew nothing about prison culture, his experience as a teacher helped him gain placement on Tim’s phone and visitation list, enabling him to travel to Florida dozens of times to encourage, mentor, and share stories with the teen.
Soon, along with partner and musician, John Starnes, Ron was meeting other inmates on longer trips... and the men could see the difference that their care and interest was making. To set aside conventional labels and see the inmates how God sees them seemed to help inmates gain a sense of peace, purpose, and empathy toward others -- something Ron thought would also help them succeed and remain free upon release to their families and communities.
His theory of reduced recidivism was confirmed through several meetings with DOC officials in Florida, and in 2009, Ron began a larger outreach with fellow friends, speakers and musicians -- sometimes as many as 25 at a time! Timothy's Gift was finally granted non-profit status in 2012, and is now in its tenth year!
Timothy's Gift is “one of the most innovative and effective programs for prisoner care available anywhere,” according to one DOC official. And now, 32,000 inmates, 150 prisons, and 4 states later, the love continues to grow!
Professional musicians, abundant in Nashville, were gathered together, bound by a common vision of love and restoration. Programs consist of old classics, Motown hits, pop music, and many gospel favorites. But the heartbeat of Timothy’s Gift was – and shall always remain -- the personal and spiritual connections made with each inmate.
If you’ve been on a tour with Timothy’s Gift, you already know the impact on the room when you call an inmate by name, sing them Happy Birthday, invite them on stage to sing and share their gifts, and give the blessing of music, friendship and communion. This, in short, has transformed prison cultures, lowered recidivism, and helped thousands of inmates fulfill their hope for a safe, empathetic and productive life, within the walls -- and beyond them.