Unconditional Love at its Essence

New Hope House in Georgia provides a loving spirit and a safe space for the ***families*** of men on Georgia’s death row….

Imagine you are on death row or on trial, facing execution. The only people standing by you are your mom, dad, other close family members, and far fewer friends then you once thought you had. The crime you were convicted of impacts them too. They get the sideways glances, and see the people whispering and pointing. The media keeps getting in their faces. They’ve lost some friends and community over this too. Maybe they even get blamed for what got you to death row. And they are still standing with you, because a momma can’t stop loving her child no matter what they might have done.

Who helps them? If you are in Georgia, the answer is New Hope House, which has been offering support and hospitality for Georgia’s death row prisoners and their families since 1988. I’ve known and supported New Hope House for over two decades. It was always Ed and Mary Ruth Weir, and Bill and Lora Shane — they all had white hair when I first met them, and now they have all moved along.

In 2005 when my son was born, my wife and I were exploring new directions. I was a long-time death penalty abolitionist — there was plenty of work for me which I could do from just about anywhere. Beth was a teacher. We had agreed that Beth would stay at home until Isaac started going to school, and then she would go back to teaching. What to do for 5 years? Beth had come into this work through a prison support ministry, visiting men on Ohio’s death row. We wondered if it would be a good fit for us to create an organization in Ohio or elsewhere similar to those we knew of in Florida, Georgia and North Carolina, so we took a trip to visit the friends doing that work.

In Georgia, we had no sooner sat down with Ed and Mary Ruth Weir at New Hope House when Ed said, “Do you want this place?” We all laughed, but he was serious. Ed knew this work was not for everyone and like any good organizer, he knew his number one job was to find a replacement for him and his wife and their friends who had created New Hope House. In the end, Beth and I went in a different direction, and Ed and Mary Ruth found someone else to move in with them and begin the transition.

Ed and Mary Ruth Weir in 2005 with my son, Isaac.

The legacy of New Hope House and its vital work is now being furthered by Mary Catherine Johnson, and New Hope House continues to provide a loving spirit and a safe space for the families of men on Georgia’s death row.

Today is my birthday. It is my own tradition to find a worthy recipient of charitable support and invite those who share my concerns to join me by making a donation. That is why I’m encouraging friends to support New Hope House in Georgia. This place and these people provide vital basic supports to the families of the condemned, trial observation in support of attorneys representing accused killers, and leadership in the anti-death penalty movement.

We started on Christmas Eve and we’re already more than 10% towards the goal. Please join me — chip in this week!

Thank YOU!