Treating people like people

November 21, 2023

By Jeff Becraft


Last week we had our Gala for Our Place of Hope. We brought in a guy by the name of Luke Knowles.

Now, I was part of a worldwide online training seminar last November and Luke was one of the speakers at one of the sessions. He shared his story of being diagnosed with a mental illness at 12 years old and all that entailed. Out of his story, he showed how the Clubhouse International model had impacted his life and how he was finally given the dignity to contribute. His story was one of the most profound things I’d ever heard. I think before the session was even over, I was emailing the group that put on this training seminar and saying, “Can I get a transcript of what that guy just said?”

And so they sent me the transcript and also sent me the video of the last session where Luke had spoken. Two months later, I showed that video to our Board of Directors and we basically sat there mostly speechless except every once in a while you would hear a low “wow.” It had a riveting impact upon our group. And so we wanted Luke to come down and tell his story of what it’s like being somebody living with a mental illness and being able to have a resource like Our Place of Hope.

But the reason I’m writing this email today is not to tell Luke’s story (I will do that in another Friday email sometime)… but to talk about what Luke was doing before the Gala officially started.

We had the Gala at Seawell’s. Luke is out in the hallway, greeting people as they come in the front door.

No one told Luke to do this. No one asked Luke to do this. And there he is, the guest speaker who has been flown in from Massachusetts, out greeting people and welcoming them to that night’s Gala.

I told him the next day, “Luke, that is great leadership! Most people would just come in and speak and leave. And that’s all they would do. And there you were, out front, meeting people and greeting people. That is real leadership right there.”

And not only that, earlier that day, Luke was helping put out programs for the night in everybody’s seat.

All from a guy who had been told by society that he had nothing to offer, nothing to contribute.  (And by the way, he received a standing ovation after he spoke.)

So, not only does my respect for Luke continue to grow, but for all of us out there, this is just a great example of what it means to be a real leader. It is not just being up front and it’s not just giving out information. It is treating people like people. And Luke is a great example of that.

I hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving!


Jeff Becraft is the Director of Our Place of Hope and the Director Emeritus for Youth Corps and has dedicated much of his life to helping shift the vision of people’s lives. Our Place of Hope is a paradigm shift for people living with mental illness that encourages them to regain meaning, purpose, and hope for their lives. You can connect with Jeff at  [email protected].