Clapton tribute to boost new nonprofit dedicated to helping prisoners

Milford. Choosing Integrity works with inmates at the Pike County Jail, and is focused on getting them a half-way house close to their friends and family.

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  • Jack Donson and Hampton Morgan of Choosing Integrity outside the Milford Theatre (Photo by Frances Ruth Harris)

  • 461 Clapton Blvd.

Choosing Integrity's mission

Many young adults struggling to address the effects of adverse or traumatic life experiences make unwise choices that lead to personal disintegration and encounters with the justice system. We see hopeful possibilities of healing, recovery and a new chance to make life meaningful and whole.
The United States incarcerates a larger percentage of its population than most other countries. On the surface the reason would seem to be that a larger percentage of our population engages in criminal activity (or perhaps that our laws are more stringent than those of other countries). We rarely ask why that is. Mostly, we may simply assume that people in the prison system are just bad people.
In fact, it quickly becomes obvious to those who engage with the men and women in our jails and prisons that no small number are there because their own life experiences have left them confused, wounded and unlikely to make better choices. Studies of incarcerated men, for example, report that up to 98 percent have had at least one lifetime traumatic experience and that many have experienced multiple traumas. Our work with inmates would confirm this.
Lifetime traumatic experiences broadly include such things as direct personal experiences of victimization, threat of serious injury or death, experiencing serious injury, learning of a serious injury or death occurring to a loved one, or personally witnessing an event that involves death or serious injury to another person. Many people who experience such things struggle with the adverse impact but do not turn to criminal activity. Those whose struggles are not so successful often turn to alcohol or drugs as a way of addressing their pain. Many of those are eventually arrested.
When we meet them in our work inside Pike County Correctional Facility, some will tell us of their childhood and adolescent experiences. It is not difficult to see why they landed in jail. Consequently, what we see convinces us that healing must be a component of their successful reintegration.
Choosing Integrity staff and volunteers are at Pike County Correctional Facility several times weekly to befriend, teach and challenge participants in the ARROW and HOPE programs in character development, integrity, resilience, recovery and employment.
We also accompany those who contact us after release in their journey of recovery and reintegration to the community by offering mentoring, personal coaching, counseling and help in drawing on a wide array of services in Northeast Pennsylvania.

By Frances Ruth Harris

A new nonprofit dedicated to helping recently released prisoners is introducing itself to Pike County with some classic rock and roll.

The tribute band 461 Clapton Blvd. will celebrate 40 years of Eric Clapton's music in a performance to be held at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, June 21, at the historic Milford Theatre on 114 East Catherine Street. All proceeds will benefit Choosing Integrity, a recently founded nonprofit working to bring a halfway house to Pike County so that inmates don’t have to be separated from their communities and families upon their release. Pike doesn’t have a halfway house, so local residents released from custody must go a far distance for re-entry, even several counties away.

Choosing Integrity board members and volunteers work with inmates at the Pike County Correctional Facility while they're still in custody and after their release to help them successfully reintegrate into community life.

“The volunteers decided to form a nonprofit and focus solely on the needs of The Pike County jail population," said board member Jack Dobson. "It was founded by Hampton Morgan, retired pastor. We have the support of the county commissioners and were recently asked to assist in the formulation of the Pike County re-entry task force.”

Dolson is retired from the Federal Bureau of Prisons and worked with the late John Crerand of Milford, who served as a state constable after retiring from the Federal Bureau of Prisons as an associate warden. Crerand, who died last October, was a Vietnam veteran who dedicated his life to community service.

In addition to Donson and Morgan, the board of directors includes Luke Barbalich, Gean Bechthold, Martha Dubensky, Heather Fiedler, Eric Hammerschmidt, and Lisa Madrigal.

The Delaware Valley Booster Club for the football team will be running the concession stand at the concert fundraiser, which is part of the Milford Music Festival weekend. Tickets are $20 at or $25 at the door.

Tickets may also be purchased at Delaware Auto Parts (107 Dingmans Place, Dingmans Ferry), A Counseling Center (1869 Route 739, Suite 1, Dingmans Ferry), GAIT Therapeutic Riding Center (314 Foster Hill Road, Milford), and Pivot Physical Therapy (Dutch’s Market Plaza, 1564 Route 507 Ste. C, Greentown).

For more information call John Actisdano at 570-618-0309.

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