Celebrating Second Chances: Volunteers of America Honors Pastor Al Peratt

April is recognized as Second Chance Month, a time dedicated to recognizing and celebrating the efforts of individuals and organizations working to eliminate the unnecessary barriers faced by formerly incarcerated individuals. The month is a time to pay tribute to those who strive to help individuals reintegrate into society, providing them with the support needed to become productive members of their communities. Among the dedicated organizations committed to this cause is Volunteers of America.

Volunteers of America was founded by Maud and Ballington Booth in 1896. Prison ministry, under Maud’s guidance, became a focal point for Volunteers of America’s efforts. Recognizing the inherent dignity of every individual, Maud saw beyond the societal labels attached to those incarcerated. Instead, she envisioned a path to rehabilitation and reintegration, believing that everyone deserved a second chance. Maud’s influence permeates the very fabric of Volunteers of America’s commitment to prison ministry. Her understanding of the transformative power of compassion and empathy has shaped the organization’s approach, fostering programs and initiatives that seek to break down the barriers faced by individuals within the prison system.  Her compassion and dedication laid the foundation for what would become a cornerstone of the organization’s mission: providing support, hope, and redemption to those entangled in the criminal justice system.

Volunteers of America’s commitment to second chances continues to be celebrated today through the annual Second Chance Service.

One highlight of this annual event is the presentation of the Volunteers of America Second Chance Award.  In recognition of Pastor Al Peratt’s exemplary contributions, the esteemed award has been renamed the Volunteers of America Pastor Al Peratt Second Chance Award.  Peratt, the inaugural recipient in 2023 was recognized for his dedication and advocacy to breaking down barriers faced by those challenged with addiction and individuals reentering society after incarceration. Pastor Al served individuals through the Volunteers of America, Dakotas affiliate.  Like Maud, Pastor Al showed compassion and tireless efforts to make a positive impact on the lives of others.

The award serves as a fitting tribute to Pastor Al’s enduring commitment to helping individuals overcome the challenges associated with addiction and incarceration. Pastor Al passed away in January of 2024.  His work with Volunteers of America, Dakotas and his legacy will continue to be recognized through this award.  

Each year, the Volunteers of America Pastor Al Peratt Second Chance Award is bestowed upon a deserving staff member who has demonstrated exceptional dedication and contributions to the organization’s mission. This recognition not only honors the recipient’s commitment to the cause, but also serves as a reminder of the ongoing efforts required to create a society that embraces and supports individuals seeking redemption.

As we celebrate Second Chance Month, let us reflect on the inspiring work of Volunteers of America and the late Pastor Al Peratt and his legacy and honor the passion of Maud Booth.   Our dedication to removing barriers and providing second chances will continues to positively impact the lives of many and contribute to a more compassionate and inclusive society.

Volunteers of America remains dedicated to second chances, embodying the belief that every person, regardless of their past, deserves the opportunity for redemption and a chance to build a brighter future.

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