One Man's Treasure
“I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me,” Matthew 25:36
Men released from the Texas prison system are given $100, a bus ticket, a pair of pants and a shirt. These former prisoners are not exactly set up for a successful foray back into normal life.
That’s why faith-based One Man’s Treasure, provides a needed service to give formerly incarcerated men a wardrobe that will help them transition from prison back into society.
“We clothe about 800 to 900 men a year,” said Annette Jenkins, the executive director for One Man’s Treasure. “We provide a set of clothes to take care of their everyday needs and give them interview-appropriate clothing.”
About 90 to 95 percent of the men who receive the clothing are in Dallas County. They receive five shirts, two pairs of pants that are new or gently used. They also get five pair of underwear, socks, shoes, tie, coat, hat and gloves. Suits go to those requesting one.
Male volunteers, called shepherds, deliver the clothing to the men’s homes. Other volunteers collect the clothes and get them ready for delivery. This includes writing Bible verses onto pieces of paper, stapling a piece of candy to it and slipping it into a pocket for the men to discover.
“From a Christian standpoint this is what we are supposed to do. Christ tells us to give clothes to the people who need it, and to visit people in prison,” Jenkins said. “What we do may not seem huge, but for the ones we give clothes to _ it makes a difference.”
After serving 25 years, Butch Hendrix, 64, of Garland, was released from prison about a year ago and received a set of clothes from One Man’s Treasure.
“I didn’t have anything after 25 years and nothing to come home to,” Hendrix said. “Those clothes helped me dress to go find a job, to go to church and to do those things you need to do when you get out.”
Once Hendrix re-acclimated and was able to get a car, he became a volunteer shepherd and now delivers clothes to newly released prisoners. Because he is an ex-offender, he brings a lot of advice and credibility to the men who are trying to start a new life.
“In the pen you have someone telling you what to eat, what to wear and then you get out here and you have to make decisions you haven’t made in a long time,” Hendrix said. “It can overwhelm some people. When I went into prison there were no computers, no cell phones. When I got out I had a real transition to make. I try to guide them, because it can be overwhelming for them to walk through a Wal-Mart. I tell them it gets better.”
Having someone deliver clothes who has been in prison and can tell them how to successfully navigate non-prison life is meaningful to the recipients. “I go back and invite them to Bible study, or ask them if they want to go to church,” Hendrix said. “Some are on monitors and can’t go anywhere so I try to call them and encourage them and tell them it won’t last forever.”
Roderick McNeely, 56, of Dallas is also a former recipient of the clothing package and now volunteers as a shepherd for the group.
“I got out of prison in 2010 and it helped me tremendously because I didn’t have anything,” McNeely said. My family, because of my addiction, didn’t trust me so I had to build that trust up again before they would help me. One Man’s Treasure gave me jeans, slacks, a pullover, socks, t-shirts, shoes and the whole nine yards. I needed all that help.”
Soon afterward, McNeely said he got with his pastor and he started volunteering to deliver clothes to those who were getting out of prison.
“We all need some kind of help when we come home and I wanted to be part of that help,” he said. “The smile and gratitude on the guy’s face when you pull up to their house and say, ‘God bless you,’ give them an encouraging word and give them those clothes is rewarding.
“Those guys do get back on their feet, and it’s fulfillment in itself.”
One Man’s Treasure needs donations and volunteers as it begins its 10th year of ministry. “We will assist over 1,000 men in 2015, so the need is great,” Jenkins said. Those wishing to help may contact Jenkins at 214-532-9819 or visit www.onemanstr.org.