Gerald D. Eber, Member of the Board of Directors at The Fortune Society

A Steady Ark of Hope

Monday, February 8, 2016

I have reached the age when, as comics say, they don’t even buy green bananas. But I can’t let chronology interrupt my efforts to strengthen The Fortune Society.

In 1994, after a long career in business management, I returned to school and became an ESOL teacher (English for Speakers of Other Languages). I later discovered Fortune and started volunteering as a language tutor. What an awakening!

Through my role as a volunteer, I was introduced to many Fortune clients and came to learn about the circumstances that landed them in prison. I also learned how after release, clients undertook the challenging process of starting a new life to become positive, contributing members of their communities.

Within this group of people, I found intelligent, determined men and women who I knew with the right help and support could succeed in reentering their communities. Seeing this reinforced my belief that I had to continue to help Fortune in its mission.

As my involvement in Fortune increased, I began volunteering in other ways and in time was honored to join their board of directors. I’m now on several board committees, provide financial support, and work on several other projects that serve the agency. We must continue to work to insure the future of Fortune.

I realize that there are many organizations dedicated to making our communities better. However, I believe that the work being done by Fortune is extraordinary. There a few programs and principles of Fortune that resonate most for me. These are:

The Unwavering Policy That Anyone Who Needs Help Is Welcome

It is truly gratifying to support an organization that is committed to assisting the marginalized and will not turn away anyone who is seeking help.

Advocacy

In addition to providing its clients with much-needed services, Fortune, as an organization, has become a strong advocate for improving our broken criminal justice system. There are so many ills, so much work to be done, and Fortune is poised to lead the way on these very important issues.

ATI (Alternatives to Incarceration)

Among Fortune’s many outstanding programs, ATI is particularly impactful— in that it allows justice-involved people who succeed in mandated programs to receive probation and avoid the damage caused by incarceration. This program works and we must make sure that it continues to grow and thrive.

The People At Fortune

Fortune’s success is clearly a group effort involving determined clients, a dedicated, hard-working staff that gets results, a diverse, resolute board of directors, and many talented volunteers who share their time and experience with the organization. A formidable family!

I could go on about the incredible work being done by Fortune. We are at an important crossroad and now is not the time to slow down. I will do my best to ensure that Fortune will be, as it has been for almost 50 years, a steady ark of hope.

Categories: Community, Featured

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