On August 5, 2015, God answered a tremendous prayer and fulfilled a vision Mike Swiger, Executive Director of True Freedom Ministries, had cast ten years earlier — to install a state-of-the-art computer lab inside an Ohio prison in order to offer the men Microsoft Office Certification.
“We came close a couple of times over the past two years,” Swiger said, “only to have the proposal bogged down at Central Office.” All of that changed when Gary Mohr was appointed Director of the Ohio Department of Corrections. “Mohr ushered in a season of change,” Swiger said. “And with it new opportunities to minister to the men in previously unimaginable ways.”
In early June Swiger got the call from Central Office that his proposal had been approved, with the caveat that the computers would need to be installed by the first week of August. Elation turned to concern — where would True Freedom find the funding for such an ambitious project in such a short period of time? Swiger immediately reached out to Ray Dalton, Founder and Executive Chairman of PartsSource. Dalton is credited with successfully starting and managing seven healthcare companies. Dalton’s Family Foundation is actively involved in funding re-entry initiatives and recently awarded True Freedom a $20,000 grant to improve the ministry’s administrative infrastructure.
Dalton enthusiastically embraced the project, agreed to not only fund the projecthe but offered to have his company’s I.T. department install the equipment as a Community Service project. By the time the Dalton Team left on August 5, they had installed 29 brand new Lenovo Computers, loaded with Microsoft Office 2013 software, typing tutorial software, along with an overhead projector and screen.
The response from the residents at the Grafton Reintegration Center was immediate and overwhelming. 95 men signed up for the program within the first hour the sign-up sheets were posted. On August 17th classes began. “The impact of this program is far more reaching then obtaining computer skills,” said Todd Ishee, Regional Director for the Ohio Department of Corrections. “By designing the program to be inmate led...you are creating an atmosphere of hope and encouragement for all those willing to learn.” True Freedom’s efforts have caught the attention of those outside the borders of Ohio. On August 28, 2015, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, author, and national television commentator George F. Will toured the computer lab, and wrote about it in his nationally syndicated column found here.