The Face(s) of Philanthropy

Pictured above: Some of the Face(s) of Philanthropy at a celebration thrown by Dr. Harris and his wife Lee at their home in celebration of the historic first graduation of inmates from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary at Darrington Penitentiary in Rosharon.

David Shaw - Darrington Prison SeminaryDavid Shaw, a long-term Rotarian, is a living example of the club’s motto: “Service above self.” Having served on numerous non-profit boards over 50 years in multiple states, David enjoys growing and supporting local charities. At an age when most people are settling into retirement, David Shaw has a brand new board position and mission.
In 2013 David and his wife, Karen visited Angola State Penitentiary in Louisiana, at the urging of long-time friend Dr. Steve Harris. Once known as “America’s Bloodiest Prison,” violence in Angola has decreased by 80% since 1995. David said that once you were on the prison property, you felt the overwhelming presence of God. When asked what had caused the change, Senior Warden, Burl Cain said: “It was the Seminary Bible College. We started the college my first year here. And … since then…, our violence rate began to drop…Our Bible College was the primary driver for this change.”
That trip not only changed David and Karen’s opinion of prisons, they felt personally called to get involved with the Heart of Texas Foundation (HOTF). Founded by Grove Norwood, HOTF is a 501(c) (3) organization that privately funds a seminary inside the maximum-security fencing of the Darrington Penitentiary in Rosharon, Texas. In May 2015, the Southwestern Seminary at Darrington held its first graduation for 33 inmates who completed their four-year Bachelor of Science Degree in Biblical Studies.
All seminarians are either lifers or serving extremely long sentences. They influence other prisoners who are not in the seminary to change their behavior and to be concerned about their children who are 70%+ destined to come into prison. As seminarians graduate, most will transfer in teams as “field ministers,” working with the Chaplains and Wardens in other Texas prisons. There is so much more to this story. Many entities and individuals in the public and private sector have supported The Heart of Texas Foundation to create a force for peace and reconciliation within the prison. Please go to their website to learn more about how this program is changing lives inside and outside of our Texas prisons.
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