Jon Sheptock visits SVORI offenders
Leslie Wooley, Lauren May
The ECHO, May 2011
If anyone deserves to have a negative attitude or an excuse to use drugs, it is Jon Sheptock. Born in 1976, with all odds stacked against him, Jon came into this world without any arms in addition to his right leg being shorter than his left. Jon’s biological parents did not even want to hold him but put him directly into foster care. Jon was in foster care for six months and was then adopted by an extraordinary couple who knew it was their calling to bring a special needs child into their family. Jon was brought into the large Sheptock family – a family with 37 children, mostly all adopted.
As Jon grew up, there were many challenges. He was unable to crawl as a child, and he was unable to walk until the age of four. In school, he was ridiculed and spit upon by classmates and never felt like he fit in as a teenager. This persecution led to a sense of rejection, self doubt and even thoughts of suicide. Instead, Jon became a Christian and found that with God he could conquer anything. This new mission gave him a reason for living and a reason to share his story to help and encourage others. “I know God has a great plan for my life and I am willing to go where ever He leads,” he said.
Jon was just a young boy when he realized that he was given an astonishing gift. He may have been born without arms and a short right leg but he was given the ability to be an extraordinary singer. For many years, he has been singing Christian music all over America.
In April, 2009, he has the opportunity to sing at a Bill Gaither Homecoming Tour event.
Jon regularly performs at schools, churches, men’s conferences and prisons. He is scheduled to release his second CD in April of 2011.
He is also a member of the “One Percenter” prison ministry of Huntsville that travels to many different TDCJ prisons in the area, singing and sharing God’s Word.
A unique opportunity recently presented itself. On March 29, 2011, Jon visited the Serious and Violent Offenders Reentry Initiative (SVORI) program at the Estelle unity, gave his life story, and sang. He exhorted the offenders to always stay positive and to NEVER give up, no matter hat life hands them. Jon’s father always said to him, “keep on keeping on.” One SVORI offender said, “I have an 18 year sentenced, which I’ve done mostly in ad seg., but Jon has confinement is hard and it can mess your mind and self esteem. Jon give us offenders hope that if he can make it so can we.”
The SVORI re-entry initiative address the significant need to provide a pre-release program and transitional service for male offenders in administrative segregation prior to their release. The SVORI curriculum includes classes relating to the leading causes of recidivism: anger management, thinking errors, substance abuse, life skills and future employment. The SVORI program is unique in that it provides fundamental programming though computer the offender is the SVORI program will be released from administrative segregation directly to the streets of our communities.