The Vision of HOPE for Prisoners is “to empower and equip men, women, and young adults who are exiting various arenas of our judicial system to help them successfully re-enter and effectively function in mainstream society”. Brent Jones shares the vision and helps by providing employment for these men and woman through the Hope for Prisoners program.
“Real Hope for a Real Christmas” was held on December 15, 2012 at the International Church of Las Vegas.
The 16 families in attendance each had their own Christmas tree surrounded with gifts bought especially for each individual in the family. While most people equate giving gifts to the children in need, both Jon Ponder and Brent Jones wanted the guardians to have a special Christmas too. Mr. Ponder has an analogy “The guardians are like the back of the Christmas tree, everybody pays attention to the front of the tree, with the best decorations and leaves the back undecorated and ignored because no one sees the back of the tree” Brent Jones wanted to help give attention to the back of the tree/ the guardians. Often the guardians are a parent left to handle the responsibilities of raising the family alone or grandparents stepping in to care for the children. Both categories take on a huge roll in caring for these children and often sacrifice a great deal to provide a stable home. Christmas is usually a time for families to get together but many of these kids don’t have that option when a parent they love is in prison. The situation makes the Christmas season difficult for these families. More than not, financial duress adds to the inability to celebrate Christmas in the traditional way of family gatherings, gifts and a Christmas feast.
Brent Jones stepped up to provide gifts for each and every parent/guardian and in some cases for extended family members, such as a grandparent or aunt who were attending the event with the family. The goal was for every family to have a wonderful Christmas in spite of any financial circumstances that would otherwise prevent the family from enjoying the holiday festivities and a family Christmas celebration. His company, Real Water also provided gifts for the children for 4 individual families (12 children) of the 16 families who participated.
According to Mr. Jones “Christmas is just not Christmas without a big traditional Christmas meal”. Brent and his wife Aimee made the decision to provide all the food for the Christmas dinner. Turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, mac-cheese, stuffing, veggies, baked yams and dinner rolls were on the menu. Apple and Pumpkin pies were served for desert. Chef Chris Gonzalez planned and prepared the entire meal for 150 guests.
Real Hope for a Real Christmas came together with the help of many people who wanted to help. All the children in of the 16 families were blessed with an abundance of gifts. The well-known organization, Angle Tree provided several gifts, including bicycles donated by the community in conjunction with Chet Buchanan of KLUC Radio 98.5 going up the pole. Other organizations:
The families and guest enjoyed the evening and hearing messages from their loved one who is imprisoned and could not attend the Christmas event. There was scripture readings and the story of Christ’s Birth presented by Tim Birch. Christmas music filled the room and a duet of “Mary did you know” was performed by Ashley Smith and TroiElle Green. Pastor Posten and wife spoke about the history of Angle Tree and Pastor Victoria Camp offered the blessing over the meal.
After dinner the families attended the play “Papa’s Whistle” an original Christmas production put on by the International Church of Las Vegas. While the families attended the play volunteers bagged each family’s unwrapped gifts, then together with the families Christmas tree they were loaded on the truck for delivery to each of their homes. Each family will now have a Christmas tree in their own homes and on Christmas morning each family can open their gifts celebrating Christmas together.
Brent Jones who attended the event said “Real Hope for a Real Christmas” was made possible by many people” “I feel honored to have participated”
Blain Jones, who is Vice President of Communications and Anthony Randolph, both of Real Water, also attended the event. The two passed out T-shirts to the kids and adults.
The event was a tremendous success and many families were touched by the generosity of all who helped make it possible.
Sponsors of the event included: Angel Tree, Hope for Prisoners, Real Water, Hope for Nevada, International Church of Las Vegas, and Graphics 2000. A special thanks to Tammy Bond who contacted each family with a personal invitation and spent many hours creating a list of each child and guardians needs. Also a big thanks to the group of women from the ILVC Church who decorated and helped plan this special event. Kenneth Scherado owner of Lone Mountain Aviation also provided gifts for the event.
A huge thank you goes out to Jon Ponder of Hope for Prisoners, for all the work he does helping people and families who for a variety of reasons have interacted in some way with the prison system. Jon dedicates his life to providing education and help for these families trying to re-enter society.