Transforming Lives at Dismas House
“It started with the Holy Spirit,” said Paul Young. He’s talking about what brought him to the Order of Malta and specifically to Prison Ministry. Paul said he felt persistently prompted to become involved in Prison Ministry, even though he wasn’t sure why.
It would seem that the “why” doesn’t really matter because, through serving Dismas Home in New Hampshire, Paul has discovered how much he appreciates the opportunity to participate in Prison Ministry. Dismas Home is a residential alcohol and drug-rehabilitation and reentry program that helps women who have been incarcerated. Paul serves both in a hands-on capacity and as the volunteer Chair of the Board of Officers. “I have learned there’s nothing I prefer doing more than working with Dismas Home,” he said. “It is such a unique experience.”
Professional services to residents include daily group therapies, individual psychotherapy, case management and around-the-clock support in a loving home environment. Paul, along with other volunteers, might bring residents food, help them get an education or just write them a letter once in a while “You see these women who come out of prison and are really broken people,” Paul said. “Giving them the tools they need to help turn their lives around after they’ve made the courageous decisions to do just that, and then seeing them come out as transformed people, healthy in body, mind and spirit, has brought me to tears on many occasions.”
Paul said the residents respond to God’s love working through the people helping them at Dismas Home. “The backgrounds of the individuals coming out of prison are varied,” he noted. “Some are faithful Christians. Others have no knowledge of God. We’re able to give witness to both strengthen people’s faiths and to perhaps spark some interest in God because of what they see from the people around them.”
While on hold during Covid, weekly Sunday dinners are part of the routine at Dismas House, attended by both residents and supporters. Paul likened them to the Last Supper and the witness of Jesus. “Sitting over a meal was often a very moving experience for His apostles. It’s a great way to break bread together; to learn about each other; and grow in community, love and faith.”