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My Town Hero: Greenbrier man starts prison ministry | My Town Hero

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My Town Hero: Greenbrier man starts prison ministry
My Town Hero, People
My Town Hero: Greenbrier man starts prison ministry

GREENBRIER, Ark. (KTHV) - This week's My Town Hero is striving to make his community better, and hoping to save lives along the way. Eddie Kelso, of Greenbrier, said he simply saw a need and decided to do something about it.

"3.2 percent of our adult population is in jail, probation, or incarcerated. That's one out of every 31 adults in America doing some time,” said Kelso, a pastor for 17 years who has witnessed the grim reality of life behind bars. "I'm seeing them destroying their lives, and it's such a waste."

Kelso turned his vision of starting a prison ministry into a reality. Four years ago he became a Certified Religious Assistant in Arkansas prisons. He and his wife Joy, then created "Know the Truth about Prison Ministry" in effort to reach inmates and their families. Today he continues to travel from one prison to the next, volunteering his time to try and prevent inmates from becoming repeat offenders.

"They're just normal people who made very bad decisions,” he explained. But for some, that poor decision making has cost them the rest of their lives. Inmates as young as 15 may never walk outside the prison gates. "Those kids are at the age where they're making decisions, whether they're going be gang members or get involved with drugs."

In hopes of reaching the youth before it's too late, Eddie first reached out to Resource Officer Pat Swain at Quitman High, speaking to students about the reality of prison. Kelso is now traveling to other schools, speaking about anger, alcohol and drugs- some of the many things affecting teens today.

"I was really glad for that because kids need to know there's a consequence for what they do wrong," said Swain. "He's heroic for taking his time to talk to kids. We didn't pay him; we didn't have the money to pay him.”

Eddie's commitment to reach the youth isn't at all about financial gain for him, it's about saving lives. It's a battle he said he's willing to fight until the end.

"I just don't want to see another kid 15-years-old incarcerated in an adult prison,” concluded Kelso. “Or, me having to put my arm around him and say ‘Son, it's gonna be alright.’ when I know in my heart it ain't gonna be alright."

For more information on Leso's ministry, you can go to his website: http://www.knowthetruth-prisonministry.com/

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My Town Hero, People