PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

October 15, 2012

Castillo named to Bridges to Life post


The Port Arthur News

— Chris Castillo has been named Southeast Texas regional coordinator of Bridges to Life, a faith-based programed aimed at keeping inmates from returning to prison.

Castillo, formerly of Port Arthur, also works with murder victim family members as the Texas coordinator of Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation. He started his career as a reporter, and became a Bridges to Life volunteer about 10 years ago when he made a career change into public relations. He worked for Lamar 11 years and prior to that he worked for the Beaumont Convention and Visitors Bureau.

"I am very happy to join Bridges. I found peace through this program after the murder of my mother. It is a great healing process for inmates and victim volunteers,” Castillo. said.

“Chris has been a volunteer for BTL for many years. We are excited to have him as our regional coordinator in Southeast Texas. We are looking forward to growth in that area, said John Sage, founder of BTL.

Bridges is currently looking for volunteers of all kinds, both crime victims and facilitators to help rehabilitate inmate during its 14-week program, Castillo said.

“We are growing in the U.S. and beyond. Currently, we are working with Mexican officials from Monterey who planned to visit Beaumont to see Bridges to Life in action. Although their trip was postponed, they still hope to do Bridges to Life in a prison in Mexico. That would mark the fourth program out of the U.S. where Bridges is underway.”

To learn more about volunteering call Castillo at 409-201-7106 or via email atchris@bridgestolife.org. Learn about the ministry at www.bridgestolife.org.

The mission of Bridges To Life is to connect communities to prisons in an effort to reduce the recidivism rate (particularly that resulting from violent crimes), reduce the number of crime victims, and enhance public safety. The spiritual mission of Bridges To Life is to minister to victims and offenders in an effort to show them the transforming power of God’s love and forgiveness.

Bridges To Life was founded in 1998 by Houstonian John Sage after the brutal murder of his sister, Marilyn, in 1993. His sister’s killers were tried, convicted, and sentenced to death. Sage began to realize the terrible toll his sister’s murder had taken on his life, the lives of everyone else in his family, Marilyn’s friends and the community. After reflection, prayer, and time, Sage was able to forgive his sister’s murderers; and he realized that he had a place in his heart for all offenders. This life-changing experience inspired John to develop a rehabilitation program to take crime victims into the prison to work directly with offenders.

With the assistance of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and other essential partners, Bridges To Life will coordinate 63 projects in 26 Texas prisons, plus juvenile and transitional housing facilities in 2012. Their goal is to graduate 2,700 offenders from Bridges To Life programs with the help of more than 350 volunteers. The Bridges To Life curriculum has been used in prisons in ten states and 3 foreign countries. To date, more than 15,000 offenders have graduated from the BTL program.