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Our Opinion: Celebrating second chances

On each Friday so far in April, the Dispatch told the stories of area residents who overcame obstacles of crime and addiction to better their lives and reach personal redemption. Their stories are moving and inspirational, and we hope everyone has or will take the time to read them.

Brainerd Dispatch editorial
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Everyone deserves a second chance.

April is known as Second Chance Month, both nationally and in Minnesota, reaffirming the importance of helping those with criminal backgrounds re-enter society and have a second chance at a better life after paying their debts.

Look no further than several area residents profiled by the Brainerd Dispatch this past month who not only gained but succeeded when earning their second chances.

On each Friday so far in April, the Dispatch told the stories of Jesse Jones, Dawn Powell-Bowman and Joe Derosier, each of whom overcame obstacles of crime and addiction to better their lives and reach personal redemption. Their stories are moving and inspirational, and we hope everyone has or will take the time to read them. The last two Fridays of this month will also feature Second Chance success stories in the Brainerd Dispatch e-edition and at www.brainerddispatch.com .
Though not explicitly connected, their stories in a way reflect what Easter is all about — redemption.

For Jones, crime and drugs were a way of life, one that he would not be able to escape. He entered and graduated from Minnesota Adult & Teen Challenge and now works to help others to get off the same path he was on.

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“This is our second chance, and as we are living our life, we’re also able to help other people get their life in order,” he said in a story in the April 1 edition of the Brainerd Dispatch.

“People make mistakes,” he said, “and it’s important that we just come alongside of people and say, ‘You’re not defined by the mistakes that you’ve made, and that there’s light at the end of the tunnel if you’re willing to change.’”

Powell-Bowman was the child of an addict who started abusing alcohol and drugs at a young age. Despite years of addiction, recovery programs,sobriety, relapses and arrests for drug possession, she never gave up hope.

“I surrendered to Jesus. I got this recovery Bible, and I Just kept reading it at night, I feel like I surrendered,” Powell-Bowman said in an April 8 story in the Dispatch. “... I just felt like Jesus had — I know it was him — touched me on the shoulder and said, “You know, it’s gonna be OK.’”

Derosier, whose story was in Friday’s Dispatch e-edition, also is a child of addicts. He spiraled into alcohol and drugs at a young age. It took time and perseverance, but Derosier got sober and got his life in order.

“It’s not going to happen right away, but it will happen if you do everything you’re supposed to do,” he said.

We applaud Jones, Powell-Bowman, Derosier and others for coming forward with their stories. We’re sure it wasn’t easy to do, but if their experiences can inspire others suffering from addiction to seek help, it’s more than worth it.

The Brainerd Dispatch Editorial Board members are Dispatch and Echo Journal Publisher Pete Mohs, former Dispatch Publisher Terry McCollough, Dispatch Editor Matt Erickson, Dispatch Managing Editor Renee Richardson and Echo Journal Editor Nancy Vogt.
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