A Note from New Dismas House of Indiana President Doug Elder

Event Date:

Greetings, Friends of Dismas House!

It’s truly a pleasure and honor to be Dismas House of Indiana board president, a position I’ve held since this past July. You may have asked yourself, “WHO IS THIS GUY?”

Well, hello. My name is Doug Elder. 

Over the past six years, I’ve been volunteering my time with Dismas House, first, by helping residents build resumes, later, as a board member and, now, president. I’m also a Rotarian Chamber ambassador for two local counties and sit on several nonprofit boards. 

However, my biggest achievement is six years of recovery. Simply put: service work keeps me sober. 

Without my sobriety, I wouldn’t be able to realize the good I set out to accomplish daily. Each day is a blessing and a new opportunity to do good things. 

When getting involved with Dismas, I wanted to make people aware of the magic that happens at the House. I immediately jumped into action and helped welcome actor Danny Trejo, former NFL standout Chris Zorich and “Orange is the New Black” author Piper Kerman to South Bend for our annual dinner.

I’m also a partner — the DO — at DOJO Creative, a local design and marketing agency that works with a variety of great clients and awesome NFPs throughout the country, especially here in Michiana. 

My partner Josh Harmon — the JO — and I recently bought the former Gene’s Camera Store in downtown Mishawaka, where we’ve been diligently refurbishing a building from 1895 to become our new home for the agency and our outstanding creative staff. 

I’ve worked in advertising for the past 25 years, operating in markets such as Miami, Chicago, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and, now, Mishawaka as DOJO’s co-owner. Through creative collaboration, we do amazing work daily for our clients in web development, marketing, design, SEO and so much more. I truly am grateful to have an amazing staff and parter working together, shoulder to shoulder.

I’m also blessed to work alongside an amazing staff and devoted board at Dismas; I’ve made a second family at Dismas House with fellow staff and board members. 

My goals as Dismas House president include raising public awareness of our mission, generating greater support from the community and partners, increasing donations and reserves and adding to the daily magic at Dismas House to improve resident’s re-entry experience and reduce recidivism. 

My other goals include placing a greater emphasis on mental health, sobriety and recovery and creating more opportunities for our residents to engage in heathy living and a graceful return to a great life and future. More than 80 percent of our residents don’t get into trouble again; I want to maintain and build on that, while removing stigma and encouraging the public to hire former inmates into the local workforce. 

But lastly, my biggest goal: to have people realize we all make mistakes and everyone deserves a second chance through grace.

If you’re interested in learning more, helping, collaboration, support or donating, I would love to hear from you. 

Pop by the office at DOJO Creative, 119 S. Main St., Mishawaka. You can always call my cell at 574-276-4998 or drop me an email at doug@letsgodojo.com.

Always remember to give grace. Everyone deserves a second chance and someone to believe in them.

Thanks and nice to meet you!