by Dale Russell

Before Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, and written records there were only fish stories. Anglers would tell tall tales with vivid expressions of excitement. The fish got bigger, and the struggles got longer with each new telling of their tale. The “ones that got away” were more heartbreaking for the storyteller with each articulated version.

What if the best fish story yet comes from prison?

Enter inmate Michael.  He has a goal – support orphans in Uganda in unusual ways.  He creates art from steel with imaginative use of equipment found behind the walls of Two Rivers Correctional Institution.

His passion for such things might come as a surprise, considering what you might perceive as “prison”. You first need to know he has been a supporter of Otino Waa Children’s Village, Uganda since 2014.  He sponsors David Opito, a young student there.  His desire to be connected to David led him to much more.

Michael’s first creation was a full size sea turtle.  This piece sold for an amazing amount last year, breaking all our previous records for a single art piece.  Michael saw it as a great success for many reasons.

Now he’s at it again, with a magnificent trout.  You must take a minute to appreciate the story. Take a closer look;

The piece stands 13” tall, showing the trout’s determination.  Michael says it mirrors his own resolve to overcome his past and be much more than the labels commonly placed on him.

The “lake” base outlines the state of Oregon.

Note the line and lure.  Besides welding, Michael is training to be an electrician.  The wire represents his desire to be successful when he paroles, but also his longing for others to agree with his efforts.


“And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works.” Hebrews 10:24

The reel began as a square piece of aluminum.  Michael wants his sponsored child to know you can become so much more than how you started, or as others perceive you.  God created you for a purpose, even if your life did not start that way.  Orphans and inmates can be just like that.

 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”   Jeremiah 29:11

See that wood insert in the handle?  Nothing spiritual or educational about it, but Michael admitted there is a broom handle somewhere in TRCI, now 3” shorter.  Fortunately, Michael’s supervisor knows how his passion might require some resourcefulness in prison.

OK, your turn. This is where you write the rest of the story. This is where you can be the partner Michael is praying for.

This wonderful piece is for sale.

Our promise to Michael (and all our artist partners) is 100% of the sale of “Reel Hope” goes to Otino Waa Children’s Village.  Somewhere out there is a fisherman who would appreciate the talent, be an encouragement to Michael and be a support to over 300 kids at Otino Waa – ALL at the same time!

Is that you?  Someone you know?

This is how $525 becomes an investment in lives.

Who do you know who could add this to their own “fish” stories?

Go HERE to view and purchase.  Create your own fish story that others can easily believe.


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