Kathy Heinzel is somebody we all need to meet. She is like your sweet sister, nice next door neighbor, or concerned co-worker. She grew up in Minnesota with practical mid-western values. She raised two kids, became a police officer and later a detective, She has an abiding love of horses. Yet, her life changed forever one night after she decided to get behind the wheel of her car after having a few drinks. Kathy was involved in a DUI that resulted in the other driver's fatality. This could be you. This could be me. This could happen to any one of us in a moment of weakness and misguided thinking. It took a lot of courage for Kathy to share the story of one of the worst days of her life with us. It was especially hard for her because of the constant burden of shame she carries. Kathy is not the type of person that comes to mind when we think of incarcerated individuals. But as you'll hear from her own words, it was the place that brought her her greatest education. I hope her story is a wake up call for anyone who feels they can drink and drive without any repercussions.

Show Notes

I know Kathy would never have chosen this path to intentionally walk down, but the lessons, friendships, and change of heart she gained while in prison were transformational for her. Our lives are but a series of small choices compiled together to form a cohesive whole. Every seemingly inconsequential act matters. They all form the basis of our character, our thought processes, and eventually our actions. 

After our conversation Kathy emailed me some more thoughts that she regretted not sharing during our interview. I'd like to share those at this time, in her own words, since I think they are very poignant and hold a lot of weight. She says, "before my incarceration I believed in the death penalty, I believed in 3 strikes law and leave without pay, and I believed in repeat offender enhancements. I was a tough on crime follower.I no longer believe in any of those. In fact, I am strongly against all of it.
We incarcerate too many people. I also forgot to tell you my best analogy about prison: I felt like the discarded garbage of society. Just as we put our trash out in front of our house to be picked up and taken away. We discard our prisoners. We don't care where, just not in our community, never to be seen or smelled again." 

How many of us can relate to these opinions? A change of heart happens because of a personal experience...either happening to you, or the opportunity to meet someone it's happened to. We would be wise to heed Kathy's lived experience and consider the incarcerated humans who need love, not trash that needs discarding.

Nelson Mandela is quoted as saying, "Our human compassion binds us the one to the other – not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future." We all's part of the human condition. May we learn how to better comfort those who suffer and see ourselves in the other so we can grow and walk in greater compassion...just as Kathy has.

Quote: Winston Churchill - Never, never, never give up.

Kathy's Business: State Issue
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What is Gramercy?

Stories from those who live and work on the margins of society.