Council Member Don Ramsey selected Freedom Life Ministries Executive Director Danny Hampton as the City of Marion's June Citizen of the Month.
Council Member Ramsey stated it was his honor and pleasure to recognize June’s Citizen of the Month, Danny Hampton.
Council Member Ramsey shared that Mr. Hampton had been called into ministry while a student at Mars Hill College in 1982. He stated that after Mars Hill College Mr. Hampton attended the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville Kentucky, graduating with a Master of Divinity Degree.
Council Member Ramsey stated that Mr. Hampton was married to Cindy Hampton for 37 years. He said they had two children, Sarah Hampton and Stephen Hampton, both currently living in Marion.
Council Member Ramsey said that Mr. Hampton had served in a ministry leadership positions in North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, New York and New Jersey since 1982.
Council Member Ramsey stated that in 2010 God called Mr. Hampton back to his home in McDowell County. He stated that Mr. Hampton felt a deep calling to minister to the needs of people who felt uncomfortable or unwanted within a church, people who felt unacceptable or unworthy to receive God’s love.
Council Member Ramsey shared that Mr. Hampton became a state credentialed Chaplain within the North Carolina prison system. He stated that Mr. Hampton began working for McDowell Mission Ministries and that he served as a community funded chaplain in the Marion Correctional Institution, at both the close custody and minimum custody facilities.
Council Member Ramsey stated that after two years of serving in the prison system, Mr. Hampton felt burdened to find a way to minister to the needs of incarcerated individuals while they were in jail or prison, and after they were released back into the community.
Council Member Ramsey shared that in 2012, with the full support of McDowell Mission Ministries, Mr. Hampton and a handful of other community leaders founded Freedom Life Ministries.
He stated that since that time, God had blessed Mr. Hampton and Freedom Life Ministries to grow to an organization with 14 staff members and many volunteers. He shared that 3,000 men and women within our community had been served and over 6,000 within our McDowell Jail and Prison systems.
Council Member Ramsey stated that many current staff of Freedom Life were, at one time, clients of Freedom Life. He stated that while working to build the capacity and effectiveness of Freedom Life, Mr. Hampton had served on several boards and had been engaged in many community building events such as the Blue Ridge Recovery Rally.
Council Member Ramsey said Mr. Hampton helped form the McDowell Reentry Council, which has brought together community and state partnership and resources. He stated that Mr. Hampton served as part of the McDowell Substance Use Workgroup, now renamed as the McDowell Partnership for Substance Awareness.
Council Member Ramsey shared that over the past 12 years, Danny had worked tirelessly to build community connection, potential, and capacity. He said Mr. Hampton sought not only to help men and women rebuild lives and families, but also to help the McDowell and Marion communities become healthier and more vibrant.
Council Member Ramsey stated that in 2022, through partnership between Freedom Life, McDowell County and the City of Marion, grant funding was received to build 44 apartments specifically to provide program housing for men and women working hard to rebuild their lives and never see prison again. He said this project had set a precedent within the state of North Carolina for City, County and nonprofit collaboration around the needs of the justice system involved population.
Mr. Ramsey said his favorite Bible verses came to mind when I thought of Mr. Hampton, Mathew 25:40, which reads “For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. I tell you the truth for whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”
He stated that those verse were something to live by. He stated that Mr. Hampton lived by those words and the community was blessed to have him and Freedom Life Ministries.
Mayor Little stated that Mr. Hampton had done so many wonderful things for the people of McDowell County. He stated that Mr. Hampton’s one-on-one approach to helping people understand that they were worthy of God’s love, no matter what, was admirable.
Council Member Martin said he first encountered Mr. Hampton a few years back and was immediately blown away by his dreams of helping those incarcerated and formerly incarcerated. He stated that Mr. Hampton gave people a second chance at life.
Mayor Pro Tem Ayers stated that he appreciated Mr. Hampton. He stated that Mr. Hampton’s work had made a great impact on the community.
City Manager Bob Boyette congratulated Mr. Hampton for being named Citizen of the month. He then recognized the significant work that Freedom Life Ministries does in the community.
Council Member Harkey thanked Mr. Hampton for his work to help people. She stated that his work empowered people to live their life with the comfort of Christ’s love.
Council Member Effler stated that Mr. Hampton was a role model. He stated that some of the programming Freedom Life Ministries had recently held had helped him better understand what a family member, who was incarcerated, was going through, and what help they would need when they get out.
Mr. Hampton’s friends and family stood up and spoke words of kindness. Many stated that they had been out of prison and had nothing. They stated that Mr. Hampton met them at the gate of the prison and helped them turn their lives around for the good.
Mr. Hampton thanked everyone for their kind words and praise. He stated that none of this work would have been possible without God.