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Miracles Happen
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Miracles Happen

We often hear the phrase "miracles happen," and while it's not every day that we witness such events, that's why what happened at our apprentice Severino's recent sentencing is so special.

As you may know, much of Touch A Heart's work in restorative justice focuses on our interns and apprentices before they're sentenced. In this way, we can best prepare them to communicate their transformation and renewed mindset when they're before the Judge. For Severino, we met with his attorney, created a testimonial video, compiled a binder for the Judge of his accomplishments and articles about him and the many character reference letters written about him. "We did all that we could to demonstrate Severino's dramatic transformation", said our Executive Director Robin.

At his sentencing, Severino faced a maximum of 10 years. "When I first came here [to Touch A Heart], my thought was that I was going to spend a long time in prison, he said. "But when I started working and now being here for a year and a half, I had no doubt that things would be alright and I was going to get a lower sentence. I just knew deep in my heart and trusted and believed in God. You have to believe in Him, yourself, and everyone around you, and everything will be alright."

In the American legal system, a defendant who pleads guilty is typically offered an opportunity to address the court to express remorse and repentance through an allocution statement. Severino spoke from his heart and with humility and recognition of the damage he had done. When the Judge asked the Prosecutor for his recommendation on Severino's sentence, the Prosecutor said he would leave it to her to determine.

Then, the biggest miracle happened right before our very eyes: the Judge sentenced Severino to 6 months. We cried and pinched ourselves to make sure what we had heard was real. Severino was overcome with emotion and was in tears too. Now, we can rest assured that he'll have a safe and loving community to come back to upon his release.

Severino shared that he had faith that his sentence would be fair, and he would be content with it, but he didn't expect it to be that low. As he prepares to self-surrender later this month, he said he plans to spend his time away encouraging others to change their mindset as he attributes his own "changed mindset" to his ability to stay the course throughout his transformation, which includes being clean and sober for two and a half years. His life is now filled with so much joy that allows him to pay it forward by helping those in need. He loves his job and his community and no longer wants for anything. When asked what he plans to do when he's released, he replied, "I can't wait to get back to work again at Touch A Heart and Kalihi Union Church."

We thank everyone who put their hearts toward Severino and has played a role in his transformation. With God's grace and Severino's perseverance and strong mindset, we were able to witness a miracle.



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