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Freedom Letters Triannual Newsletter:

January 2024

Freedom Letters
The Damascus Way Newsletter

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."

Galatians 6:9

// 2023 Recap Newsletter//

Meet Our New Senior Director!

Partners, Team Members and Friends of Damascus Way:

I pray these words find you in great health and spirits. My name is Kevin Saunders, I have the amazing blessing of working with individuals who have been through extreme trauma yet have such hunger and zeal for life that it causes me to wonder, why am I worthy?

Looking back over my life and all that I have experienced, I now recognize God himself has been weaving a perfect plan and mission for me to serve him. I have not always been willing, often rebellious, but here I am now at this fascinating crossroads of humanity. I joined Damascus Way intent on impacting lives in some way. Let me share with you that here at Damascus Way, I have been forever transformed for the better.

From the outside it may be easy for some to conclude that the men we serve at Damascus Way deserve the punishment of incarceration for the crimes committed in their past. More than often it takes a closer look at the circumstances to come close to knowing what really happened. For the sake of this piece I’d like to submit that at the end of the day it’s still somebody’s son, brother, father, uncle, or cousin who has been numbered, tagged, and identified as somehow less than human. That’s where my joy in this work begins! God allows me to see a human being who is deserving of being treated with dignity, respect, compassion, and most definitely as a Man. I get to be my brother’s keeper. Sure, sometimes it’s just a short engagement of encouragement. Other times it’s a short ride to the pharmacy so the brother can pick up needed medicine.

I have countless examples of individuals who demonstrate gratitude and humility for small gestures of acknowledgement. There are stories of unthinkable perseverance and resiliency. If society only understood the lengths to which the system of incarceration has pressed to literally take the will and desire of so many away, our sense of urgency on this matter would undoubtedly shift.

Working at Damascus Way has been a most fulfilling opportunity. Each day I see individuals advancing their dreams and ambitions by slowly redefining themselves. The most important point I care to make here is this – Families have been broken, fathers disconnected from their sons, wives from their husbands. We can dismiss these individuals if that’s our choice. However, please pause and consider how you might become a part of the solution. How might you share resources, experience, connections, even your time?

Support Damascus Way today, you’ll be amazed by how someone’s life might be impacted by you.

Kevin Saunders

Senior Director

Programs & Contractual Operations

2023 - A Year of Generous Givers & Faithful Partners

The ministry of Damascus Way has been blessed in 2023 with the financial generosity and faithfulness of many partners! In collaboration with our donors, Damascus Way has been able to serve over a hundred residents with housing, programming and meals at each of our sites across the state of Minnesota. We are especially grateful to one of our long-time partners for a $60,000 year-end match grant that our partners helped meet! Indeed, this year saw Damascus Way become the recipient of our organizations largest ever donation!

In light of 2023's record breaking donations, Damascus Way wants to give special recognition and thanks to all of our partners, whether they be individual or organizational! Each of you have contributed to the ongoing mission of Damascus Way and the well-being of our residents! These donors have helped us address homeownership capacity building, general operations, racial justice, peer recovery development, community engagement and so much more!

Here are just some of those who have faithfully partnered with us this year:

Christ Community Church

United Way of Olmsted County

Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation

United Way of Olmsted County

Minneapolis Area REALTORS®

City of Rochester

MN Office of Justice Program (OJP)

MN Housing

Mayo Clinic Foundation

Think Bank Giving Committee

Bob Barker Foundation

Dhein Foundation

Ways to Get involved!

There are many ways to partner with and support Damascus Way!

  • Volunteer!

  • Collaborate!

Read More Here!

Please contact our Executive Assistant if you are interested in connecting with or supporting Damascus Way!


Support Kainos Woodshop!




// Team Updates //
New Hires:

Twin Cities //

  • Corey Webster

Director of Business & Community Development, Twin Cities

Rochester //

  • Scott Anderson

The continued ministry and services of Damascus Way are reliant upon the support and partnership of donors. There are many ways in which you can contribute to the success of our program - prayer, financial contributions and volunteering - just to name a few!

Please consider coming alongside us. The individual and communal support of people, churches and other non-profits is essential to what we do.

If your church would be interested in learning about volunteer opportunities, please call us to learn more!


Financial contributions can be made out to "Damascus Way Reentry Center," and mailed to 1515 East 66th Street Richfield, MN 55423

Click Here to Give Financially!

// Our Services //

Kainos Woodshop

Visit with Attorney General Keith Ellison //

Towards the end of October, Damascus Way had the privilege of hosting Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison at our Golden Valley campus. Members of our board, staff and residents from Golden Valley were able to meet and dialogue with the Attorney General over lunch and a tour of the site. Golden Valley Director of Reentry Services, Marlin Meszaros had the privilege of meeting Keith earlier this year at an MLK Jr. event in January and played a key role in coordinating and securing this visit.

Attorney General Ellison’s visit was greatly appreciated by staff and residents. Members of our Damascus Way leadership team had the privilege of discussing important issues with Mr. Ellison, including the work that he has done on improving the expungement process, the restoration of felons voting rights and pathways for Damascus Way to potentially hire individuals who have come into contact with the justice system. This last issue is especially close to home, given the lived experience of staff members and residents. There was also discussion of lower level substance use convictions and dialogue about what it may look like to help streamline the expungement process to avoid long-drawn out ordeals with high attorney fees.

Damascus Way extends our thanks to Bell Lumber & Pole Company for your incredible generosity. Your year-end match grant has given us the resources to to exciting and transformative things in 2024!

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