In 2009, Bob Klock made a life-changing decision.
The 74-year-old Conklin man gave up his repair shop and towing service to become a volunteer for Celebrate Recovery, a faith-based program to help people suffering from addiction and destructive habits.
Shortly thereafter, he had a conversation with the coordinating chaplain at the Broome County jail, who told him, “Bob, I can use that program here.”
The result was the start of a Celebrate Recovery program in the jail, which he has overseen for six years. He goes weekly to the facility, along with four other volunteers — including a pastor and two chaplains in training — for hour-long meetings with inmates who attend voluntarily.
The purpose is to aid and comfort people grappling not just with alcoholism and drug addiction, but issues such as anger, abuse and dysfunction in their lives.
“I think for some of them, they just need help. It’s important to show them somebody cares, and maybe they have a chance,” Klock said.
Celebrate Recovery, founded in 1990 at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, is a 12-step program modeled on Alcoholics Anonymous, but with a more evangelical Christian perspective. Since its start, more than 1 million people have gone through the program, which is in 20,000 churches worldwide, organizers say.
The idea is that “healing can take place when people apply the principles of the program,” Klock said.
The centerpiece of the Broome County jail program is weekly meetings — one for male inmates, and one for women. Klock leads the men’s session, which features lessons, prayers and discussion. Between 15 and 20 inmates normally attend over an eight-week period as the volunteers lead them through the 12 steps to recovery.
The program focuses on having inmates honestly face dysfunctional issues in their lives, realize the extent of their need, repair relationships, let go of anger and bitterness, and ask forgiveness.
“The guys who come every week very much appreciate it. You’d be surprised how many come up and shake hands and say ‘thank you,'” Klock said.
Klock felt called to do the volunteer work because of his Christian faith. “Christ is the ultimate healer,” he said. In addition to the jail program, Klock coordinates two Celebrate Recovery programs in the community that are sponsored by his home church, Windsor Bible Baptist Church. His wife, Thelma, a retired school teacher, works with him.
Klock is the type of volunteer who’s willing to put in endless hours, said the Rev. Cris H. Mogenson, coordinating chaplain at the Broome County jail for the Broome County Council of Churches, who first approached him about starting Celebrate Recovery.
The program has become an important part of jail ministry efforts because it provides the pivotal benefits of changing an inmate’s social network and offering support, Mogenson said.
“Bob is Godly, patient and has got a very big heart,” the chaplain emphasized.
Klock works to help inmates in other ways as well. He’s been known to give rides to doctor’s appointments, job interviews and social services appointments as they begin their process of re-entry after release from jail. This can be a difficult time for inmates who have lost jobs, places to live and sometimes families, he said.
In some ways, “I would rather work with those who know they are needy rather than the self-satisfied who don’t think they need to make any changes in their lives,” Klock said.
Hitting rock bottom can sometimes bring change. And, “if you’re going to hit rock bottom, jail is a good place to do it,” he added.
At the same time, he is a realist. Not every inmate he comes in contact with is going to be a success story, he said. Far from it — Bureau of Justice Statistics figures show about two-thirds of inmates will re-offend within three years of their release.
One thing that Klock finds frustrating is that some inmates lack the self-discipline and work ethic to make changes in their lives. Others are “system abusers.” At the same time, breaking free from addictive behavior is an uphill battle unless a person is committed to change.
Still, there have been success stories. One inmate he counseled broke free of heroin addiction and is now employed in a management position locally. Others have reconnected with their families or joined local churches.
“Some of the joys are seeing ones who have really turned their lives around,” Klock reflected. “I feel this is where God directed me to be.”
To see the full article, go to: http://www.pressconnects.com/story/news/connections/giving-back/2015/06/19/giving-back-repairing-lives/28968053/