Transformed hearts. Transformed tattoos.
Jacob Davidson looked at the tattoo on his hand and thought for a moment. "That's not who I am anymore," he said. He was at Grade A Tattoos in Glenbrook Square, waiting to get the tattoo covered with something that is a reflection of who he is now, a resident in the long-term program at The Rescue Mission.
"It's rare to have help for something like this," he said. "It really means a lot, coming from the lifestyle I lived. I was in a really bad place when I got this tattoo, and now it will be a tattoo that's worth being there. It says more about who I am today."
Rescue Mission residential care staff David Pitcher came up with the idea after seeing many men face vocational and social hurdles due to inappropriate and even inflammatory tattoos.
"In Life House we want to serve the men as best we can to the glory of God," Pitcher said. "If a participant has a tattoo that is holding him back personally or professionally, we want to walk alongside them as they put that piece of ink permanently in their past."
Pitcher brought the idea to his friend Ralph Burnett of Grade A Tattoos, who loved the idea.
"I've had people help me out a lot in my life," Burnett said. "So it's a chance to give back. I wouldn't be where I'm at today if someone hadn't helped me."
So when Pitcher has a programming resident at The Rescue Mission in search of tattoo transformation, Grade A Tattoos will make it happen, free of charge.
Pitcher has seen men come through Rescue Mission programming with a variety of inapporpriate tattoos.
"Prison tattoos, gang tattoos, hate tattoos, sacrilegious tattoos, and tattoos containing nudity are some examples of ink that keeps men from achieving their goals," Pitcher said. "We see amazing transformation in men here at The Rescue Mission, and many men do not want to wear tattoos that they believe are not honoring to Jesus Christ."
One particular tattoo that stands out to Pitcher was of a swastika. The program resident choose to have it covered with a rose in full bloom.
"Men who have struggled with drug abuse, gang activity, and incarceration often have tattoos connecting them to past behaviors and associations," he said. "As the men heal and their behaviors change, many of them want their tattoos to reflect their new life."