Woman inspires inmates to change
Occupation: Full-time Realtor at Coldwell Banker
Family: Married to Doug Davis, 44; two stepchildren, Mariah Dorsey, 16, and Zack Davis, 13
Hobbies: She loves classic cars. She has a '62 Ford Galaxy 500. She used to have a '68 Chevrolet Camaro.
Community service: Jail ministry, Roxbury Road Church of Christ volunteer
A Janesville woman's work at the Rock County Jail puts her among this year's "People Who Matter". Kyle Geissler reports. Lori Hagemann-Davis is featured as one of the Janesville Gazette's "People Who Matter".
JANESVILLE While playing guitar, Lori Hagemann-Davis sang Christian worship songs with about 25 inmates inside the Rock County Jail.
The inmates belted out lyrics and clapped to "Mighty Savior" and "Here I am to Worship."
They later watched "Passion of the Christ."
Hagemann-Davis, 49, of Janesville has been volunteering to teach inmates about Christianity for nine years. She also mentors inmates after they are released and helps them find housing, work or transportation.
"When they're in prison or jail, it's a bottom place in their life. They need some support, and they need some answers," she said.
"Overall, those who make a serious commitment to Christ and have gotten baptized have a much higher success rate."
Hagemann-Davis abused drugs and alcohol in her teens and 20s. She used methamphetamine and cocaine.
She had been in and out of treatment. She was working in real estate in California when she became a Christian.
"I never used a drug again," she said. "It was very major."
Hagemann-Davis later traveled to Germany in 1992 to do mission work. She worked in a federal prison. She taught inmates about the Bible and worked on character building. She spent 2½ years overseas.
She returned to Janesville in 1995. She sold real estate to make money, but her heart was in mission work.
Hagemann-Davis got involved with Roxbury Road Church of Christ in Janesville.
"My ultimate goal was to get my foot in the door at the jail," she said. "I just believe that God gave me a heart for prison ministry."
Hagemann-Davis then began teaching a three-month course on Christianity at her church. She decided to bring the course to RECAP inmates in the jail.
RECAP is a program that provides treatment, education and vocational training to inmates. Many of the inmates are there for drug- or alcohol-related crimes. About 60 inmates a year volunteer to take the Christianity course.
One inmate, Rodney Coyle, 38, said becoming a Christian has turned his life around.
"Jesus is my recovery," he said. "He saved me from my addictions."
Another inmate, Guy Kujawa, 25, said he is thankful he began attending the classes.
"It's almost like fruit of life," he said. "They're teaching you how to be a better person."
Cory Wilcox, 29, said the program is helping him become a better father.
"It opened my eyes to this way of life," he said. "I want to be a better mentor to my children and be a better dad."
Many inmates will attend Roxbury church after their release. They could be mentored and helped during their transition into the community.
"They know that we care, and we love them," Hagemann-Davis said. "We will stick our neck out over and over again to help them stay clean."