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Monday, September 30, 2002

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Former convict now helping others stay straight;
Outley, one of four alumni Culture for Service recipients, to speak Oct. 4 at GC


GOSHEN, Ind. ╔ Sylvester Outley knows the harsh realities of drug addiction and street life, but he also understands the power of transformation. Once one of the ten most wanted criminals in Texas, Outley, a 1969 Goshen College graduate now is founder and director of SELF Inc., one of the largest drug rehabilitation programs in Philadelphia, Pa.

Outley, along with Ed ╬57 and Theo Hartzler Yoder ╬58 of Archbold, Ohio, and Kathleen Zehr ╬40 of Lowville, N.Y., will receive Goshen College╬s most prestigious alumni award ╦ the Culture for Service Award, named after the college╬s motto ╦ during Alumni Weekend Oct. 4-6.

Outley will talk to students and the public in a convocation at 10 a.m. Oct. 4 in the college╬s Church-Chapel; his speech is titled °Faith Works.Ë During the convocation, two Goshen College students will receive Barnabas Servant Leadership Awards for their on- and off-campus service to others.

 

By age 30, Outley had been arrested 86 times for drug involvement and swindling, and was eventually sentenced to 10 years imprisonment in 1955 ╦ years of paradox which he later said were dehumanizing, yet gave him self-understanding, allowing him to transcend drugs and gain meaning in life.

 

He earned his G.E.D. and graduated from Goshen with a social work major. He earned master╬s and doctorate degrees before founding the Socio-Emotional Learning and Family Center in Chester County, Pa., a therapeutic residential program for criminals, as well as Outley Professional Services, an outpatient drug and alcohol facility in Philadelphia, which became SELF.

 

SELF now has a $4 million annual budget, encompassing emergency shelters, peer outreach, transitional housing and community revitalization programs. More than just sobriety training, SELF teaches that addicts must use the basic life principles of love, respect, truth, honesty, care, compassion and forgiveness to rebuild individual lives.

 

Outley╬s work in transforming the city╬s shelters from havens for addiction and crime into bases for recovery and wellness has become the model for Philadelphia╬s entire shelter system. And SELF continues to allow people to realize their full potential as °humans made in God╬s imageË by rebuilding their lives ╦ one at a time.

 

The Yoders have set up scholarship funds at Goshen College and Hesston (Kan.) College, as well as helping start a student aid fund at Zion Mennonite Church in 1982 that has supported 124 students through college.

 

Ed, an accountant at Sauder Woodworking since 1968, spent 12 years on GC╬s Board of Overseers and served on steering committees for the college╬s two major capital campaigns. Theo, a retired obstetrics nurse, has taken medical mission trips to five different Central American countries and has been active in Meals on Wheels, Hospice and Hands of Grace, an interfaith volunteer organization that provides adult daycare for elderly and disabled persons.

 

A retired home economics teacher, Zehr earned a master╬s degree from Columbia University Teacher╬s College in 1942 and taught at Beirut Lebanon College for Women for a year before returning to New York, where she has been a Sunday school teacher for 53 years and volunteer church secretary for 20 years.

 

Zehr has devoted herself to care of the elderly and to higher education as a founding board member of Brookside Mennonite Retirement Community. She helped develop and volunteers for the Lewis County Hospice program, was president of Lowville Civic Club and was involved in the Delta Kappa National Sorority, providing educational scholarships for Native Americans. In 2000, she received the United Way Senior Citizens Award for willingness to contribute to her community.

 

Goshen College is a national liberal arts college known for leadership in international education, service-learning and peace and justice issues in the Anabaptist-Mennonite tradition. Recognized for its unique Study-Service Term program and exceptional educational value, GC serves about 1,000 students in both traditional and nontraditional programs. The college earned citations of excellence among U.S. News & World Report, Yahoo! and Barron╬s Best Buys in Higher Education. For more information, visit http://www.goshen.edu/.

 

Editors: For information, contact Ryan Miller at (574) 535-7572 or ryanlm@goshen.edu.

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