The Heart of a Man - Lancaster County Re-Entry Management Organization

After two heart attacks in three months, Lancaster resident, Edward*, was diagnosed with “a bad heart.” His doctor told him he needed to stop working, as the strain on his heart could kill him. It was a shock and a devastating blow to the broad-shouldered, muscular 42 year-old former athlete, who has worked steadily since his teen years.

“It’s pretty ironic,” observes Doug Hopwood, Director of the Transitional Living Center, “because Edward is one of the most genuinely GOOD-hearted people I know, in the non-medical sense of the word. He’s incredibly positive and he’s doing the right things.”

Edward came to TLC when he was released from the Lancaster County Prison six months ago. He’s participating in a re-entry program through the Lancaster County Re-entry Management Organization (RMO). The RMO is a collaborative effort between the Lancaster County Prison, social service agencies, Adult Probation & Parole, area churches and others to improve community safety by helping people transitioning out of the Lancaster County Prison to become productive citizens and remain crime-free.

Hopwood explains that in the six months that Edward has been at TLC, he’s been a positive role model for other TLC residents, helped out with odd jobs around the center, and been a great influence on some of the children there.

Bob Geiger, at Mission New Life, is part of the RMO team walking with Edward through his transition back to the community. Geiger says, “Edward is always looking for ways to contribute and help others. He hopes to go to the Youth Intervention Center and talk with and encourage kids. And he’s very attached to and involved with his own children – teaching them and guiding them about how to be in the world.”

Edward is modest about all of this. “I have changed myself and God has helped me to turn a negative into a positive,” he says, in a soft-spoken voice. “I can offer something now to other people.”

He’s quick to give credit to the RMO partners who have helped him.

“They saw that I was serious about changing my life, and the RMO program gave me something I wouldn’t have had otherwise – a roof over my head, and people to support me. That’s what this program is about: lifting people up out of a rut, helping guide and support them if they are willing to seek and accept the help that is being offered.”

He holds his broad hands out in front of him, and rattles off a list of the RMO partners who have helped him, tallying the names on his fingers: “Folks in Pre-Parole at the prison, Doug and Carissa here (TLC), Bob and Mary at Mission New Life, Todd Blankenstein (Adult Probation & Parole), other people up at CareerLink, Valerie Case (MidPenn Legal Services).” He is quiet for a moment, and shakes his head.

“They have given me something – understanding, kindness, joy. They give you something to look forward to. These are things I never thought I could have. I have tried to work hard at this program and do well so I can make it better for the next person and set a good example.”

Edward also credits people at Lancaster County Bible Church (LCBC), where he has been attending services since his release from prison. “They show me so much kindness and let me know I’ve got someone in my corner for support and guidance,” Edward says. “Their arms are open – they have just been such a blessing to me.”

Though he is frustrated by not being able to work at the kinds of jobs he has always held, he continually looks for other ways to help people and have a positive impact. Edward says, “I know God has spared my life for a reason, and I just want to make peace in my life with God and have the right positive attitude and count my blessings as I go.”

As for the future, Edward is working hard toward finding a place to live where he can be with his kids and show them the kind of fatherly love he knows they need. “I’m just looking for the opportunity to get an apartment. I know I have charges on my record, but at the same time, that is not the person I am now. That is who I used to be. I changed all of that with these people around me supporting and guiding me to do better. You can turn your life around. I’m an example of how that can happen.”

He concludes, “I’ve been trying to find places where people aren’t just looking at the outside of a person like me. People need to look at the heart of a man.”

Everyone who knows Edward agrees: his is a very good heart.

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For more information on the work of the Lancaster County Re-entry Management Organization, see the organization’s website

For a printable version of this RMO Success Story, CLICK HERE


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