President Bush followed his last State of the Union address with a visit to Jericho, a program in East Baltimore that helps former inmates find jobs and reenter society that is run by Episcopal Church Social Services. The president used the visit to highlight his program of faith-based social services. He also spoke bluntly about his own struggles with alcohol addiction.
From the Washington Post story:
President Bush plopped himself into a chair between two former prisoners, Thomas Boyd and Adolphus Moseley, and asked to hear how their lives had changed. But first, he wanted them to know something about him: "I understand addiction," he said, "and I understand how a changed heart can help you deal with addiction."
The scene inside a tiny room in an East Baltimore rowhouse Tuesday was part of an unusual day for the president, who referred repeatedly to his struggle with alcohol as a way of connecting with the participants in Jericho....
"Why were you in jail, if you don't mind me asking?" Bush asked Moseley, a gregarious 42-year-old who replied that he served time for cocaine possession. "It's just one of those things that you need to put behind you," he told the president.
Moseley told Bush they could use more such mentoring and counseling programs on the west side of Baltimore, and Bush replied: "There are programs like that all over the city; they are called churches."
"They are not sincere, like Jericho," Moseley replied, seeming to take Bush a bit aback.
The president tried to relate to Boyd and Moseley in other ways, too. Moseley talked about how he was worried "to death" about his daughters when he was in prison, and Bush interjected, "You can be worried when you are incarcerated, and you can be worried when you are not incarcerated," drawing laughter.
After Bush departed the facility, Jean Patterson Cushman, executive director of Episcopal Community Services, said the people who met Bush today found the president inspiring: "They were kind of amazed that the president would talk to them about his own problems," she said.
From the Baltimore Sun
Jericho has received more than a half-million dollars in grants yearly under the Bush program.
"It was the first large grant this organization had ever applied for," said Jean Cushman, executive director of Episcopal Community Services. "It would have been harder for us to get it" without the Bush faith-based initiative, she said.
The White House press release for the event is here.