Christine, ACSO Alumni

"We talk about giving a second chance for clients, but I felt I got a second chance as well."

I was 29 when my husband passed away, he died in a skiing accident at Mount Hotham. He took a wrong turn and died of hypothermia. The doctor at the time reassured me that’s one of the more pleasant ways to go, because you are numb and hallucinate. He said my husband would’ve thought it was just a lovely white bed. It would have been peaceful.

 

Years later I met [ACSO founder] Stan McCormick through a neighbour who I didn’t know at the time had been in jail. I was going away and needed someone to feed my cat and Stan was willing to help. At the time he was running the Epistle Magazine and he really impressed me with his vision and his idea that everyone deserves a second chance. I subsequently volunteered some of my time to help him with admin work. After a few months Stan said ‘what are you like at taking risks?’ I want you to come and work for me, but I can’t pay you yet’. I said, ‘I’ll start on Monday’.

At the time I was working for a coal export company and was a little bit discontented. I had just sold the house my husband and I had lived in and purchased another and had a little bit of cash left over. This was how I could accept Stan’s offer. I thought I’ll go along with this until he gets some funding.

I typed hundreds of letters asking for donations. That’s how we existed in those days. There was Stan and me and about 10 or 12 volunteers. It was so exciting. We really believed in what Stan was doing and he was very charismatic. When we got our first grant for $3000, we thought, ‘this is meant to be we’re on our way. I ended up working for the organisation for 35 years until my retirement.

We talk about giving a second chance for clients, but I felt I got a second chance as well. I felt that I was making a real difference and helping not just ex-offenders but people in the community who weren’t suffering from being harmed.

I do miss some of some of the clients, but now I love travelling and I’m learning Italian and doing philosophy classes. I’m living the life. I’m living the dream.