Inmates Give Back

Last month, the Notre Dame Seminary hosted an art show at Schulte Auditorium in collaboration with seminarians, St. Rita’s, Catholic Charities Archidocese of New Orleans, and the Louisiana Department of Corrections to raise funds for the Jesuit run Red Cloud Indian School on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. This area has a life expectancy of 66 years, an average household income of $9,000 a year, and is one of the most impoverished reservations in all of the United States.

Supporters not only ensured that Red Cloud students have access to quality education on the reservation, but donations also contribute to a scholarship fund for students to pursue a brighter future. Thanks to the generosity of community support, 95% of last year’s Red Cloud graduating class now attends four-year universities.

The supporters at this event, however, were not necessarily the first people who you might picture as donors. In addition to art created by seminarians, professors, and local artists, inmates from three different facilities in the Louisiana Department of Corrections submitted artwork and woodwork pieces so that children on the Pine Ridge Reservation would have more opportunities.

Inmates have access to art classes and a wood shop based on good behavior and can even sell their crafts at the Angola Rodeo. A portion of the proceeds from the Angola Rodeo goes directly to the prisoners so that they can purchase small luxuries at the commissary like preferred brand toothpaste. Instead of saving this money for their own gain, inmates decided to use what limited resources they have to give back.

This shining example of goodwill and generosity in the face of scarcity is reminiscent of 2 Corinthians 9:6–8, which says, “God doesn’t want to coerce generosity. The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”