Volunteering with Amicus
“I find Jerome to be one of the people in my life who has the best perspective on the deep questions.”
Part 1 of 2
Post by Maureen Fischer, MaureenInk Communications, Twitter: @ MaureenFischer, www.MaureenInk.com
Note: Social Media Consultant Maureen Fischer contributed hundreds of hours of her time to Amicus in launching this blog and integrating it with our other social media. Thanks Maureen! You’ve made “Inside Change” something we can all be proud of. You’re always an Amicus in our eyes!
Once a month on a Saturday morning, Tim Hereid heads to the state prison in Stillwater to visit Jerome Nunn. Over the past year, the two have become good friends. The interview that follows describes their visits and their growing friendship.
- Tim, 32, works as a tutor, handyman, and grad student in education currently writing his thesis.
- Jerome, 34, organizes Stillwater’s athletic teams, teaches a class and is earning a BA in religious studies while serving a 30-year sentence for murder.
What led you to volunteer with Amicus?
I heard about Amicus on MPR. It was a once-a-month deal—you get to know someone really well but it’s not an enormous time commitment. It was a chance to learn and have an impact. Plus I’ve had close family in prison, and have seen firsthand the effects of the criminal justice system. That was a factor.
Who do you visit?
I visit Jerome Nunn in Stillwater. Jerome earned his high school degree in there, plus a two year degree in computer science and is currently earning a BA in religious studies through U of M correspondence courses. He’s a pretty ambitious guy.
What do you talk about?
Lately we’re having conversations about the meaning of life: how do you bring meaning and purpose to your life . . . how does your everyday work relate to your purpose. And how do you have a positive effect—whether in prison or out in the world. It’s funny, but finding purpose seems to be as challenging for me as for him. In some ways he’s a little further along the path than I am.
What sort of time commitment does it entail?
It ends up being 3 ½ hours because I drive to Stillwater 45 minutes each way. Then between going in, signing up, waiting and getting patted down, it takes an hour to get in there and I spend an hour with him. They’re pretty strict about visiting.
What do you like about it most?
It’s always fascinating. An hour is never enough. In the beginning it was, but now it’s not. It’s weird, but in a way I find Jerome to be one of the people in my life who has the best perspectives on the deep questions.
What else do you discuss? Have you talked about his crime?
I have an 8-month-old son, talk a lot about him, my wife. I’m just finishing grad school, figuring out what I want to do in education. We talk about all the possibilities out there.
We’ve talked around his crime. He’s in for murder. It is what it is. We’ve had an interesting conversation about responsibility—how your situation in life dictates what you see as possible or not possible, acceptable and not acceptable. How much are you responsible for your actions when you grow up where violence is an everyday experience? How much of that is your fault or society’s in general or your parents’ . . . those are issues we’re both passionate about. He’s lived through things I haven’t and vice versa.
Part 2 of Tim’s interview follows next week. In Part 2, Tim talks about Jerome’s crime, his sentence, his outlook and his role as a leader.
If you have an interest in the One to One program, Amicus needs you. Call us at 612-348-8570 or go to our website at www. amicususa.org. If you volunteer with us already or are thinking about it, please post a comment or question.