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UnCommon Hero

UnCommon Law honored Bonafide’s Executive Director, David Cowan with the 2019 UnCommon Hero’s Award. Watch his speech here or read it below.

Thank you so much, Keith Watley and Uncommon Law for this amazing award. I was just shocked to find out that I was going to get it and I’m deeply honored and humbled. I want to thank all of you for supporting the work and supporting me.

This award isn’t just Bonafide’s award, but it also belongs to all the people who inspire our work: those thousands of prisoners who are on their journeys to restore their lives and those thousands of people who help them on their way on that journey. I think it’s also fitting that tonight’s theme is Restoring Lives because I think that it speaks a lot to Bonafide and my own story.

30 years ago, I started an indeterminate sentence. When I got to prison I didn’t know what to expect, but what I found were lifers who were well along that path to restoring their lives. What they shared with me was all of their experience and their support as I made that journey myself. An so I was fortunate enough to be a part of a community who supported each other as we struggled to survive and to just find restoration.

I think that’s what Bonafide’s about. It’s not really about the gate pickups although those are great. It’s so much more than a ride and a phone. I think that what it’s really about is being able to receive someone back into the community and sit with them as they process all of those overwhelming feelings and emotions and thoughts that come as a result of being released after decades of incarceration. And so that’s what it’s about.

 So for me, at the heart of Bonafide, is my gratitude for every one who assisted me and mentored me and who has given me a community and showed me that we could have a strong supportive community on the inside and I just want to show you that we can maintain that strong, supportive community on the outside and no-one has to do this alone.