Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Dear Readers,

It is with a heavy heart that I have learned of the passing away of  Bernie De Castro on April 8, 2020, a man who dedicated the last 30 years of his life serving newly released prisoners re-enter society. Bernie De Castro knew, all to well, the plight of prisoners as he had served time in Florida State Prison and knew, firsthand, how difficult it is for a felon to obtain employment, housing and financial aid. Shortly after his release from prison, Bernie started a non-profit faith-based organization,"Time for Freedom Ministries." This was the beginning of his journey helping his fellow prisoners. Largely due to his efforts, several thousand men have been able to transition from prison life to a fresh start in the community. He continued to focus on his ministry to men seeking work release assistance and, to this end, formed the organization RECO, Re Entry Center of Ocala. With Bernie's passing his son, David, has moved from the role of Vice-President to President and Michael has moved into the position of Vice-President.They are keeping Bernie's legacy and life's work alive.  

Bernie was a true friend to my brother, William Van Poyck, and was present in the execution chamber, as his spiritual guide, when William spoke his final words, "Set Me Free." At that time, I was across the street from Florida State Prison at the vigil for William. After William's passing, Bernie came to the vigil, in tears, and told me of William's final words and that my brother was at peace with God. 

Thank you, Bernie, for all you did for the down-trodden prisoners who found hope through your kindness and compassion.  You are sorely missed. But I know you have had a reunion with William on the other side.

~ Lisa Van Poyck

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