Honoring a Champion for Change: An Interview with Bob Caldwell Jr.
Updated: Jul 6
A snapshot of Bob Caldwell Jr.
Bob currently works as the President of the family-owned Grace Management Group founded in 1975. Grace Management Group is a set of privately held fragrance brands; Bridgewater Candle Company, Fresh Scents, Greenleaf, Votivo, and NOTES.
His passion for ministry began while in college, growing as the years passed. Bob Jr. and his family are involved in JUMPSTART and also give back through two of their companies, Greenleaf and Bridgewater Candle Company. Greenleaf allocates 3% of every product purchase to breaking the cycle of human trafficking by supporting organizations committed to ending human trafficking and bringing those enslaved to safety. Bridgewater Candle Company, through it’s Light and Candle, Feed a Child program, donates one day’s worth of meals for an orphaned child for each candle it sells to Rice Bowls, a local organization that supports the food budgets of orphanages globally.
He met his wonderful wife, Sarah, while at Wheaton College. They have six beautiful children together, two of whom they adopted. His deepest desire for his six children is to see them follow God’s call for their lives, regardless of where that takes them or how it manifests.
How did Bob Jr. become involved with JUMPSTART?
Bob studied Christian education while at Wheaton College. Initially, although many people asked him, he had his heart set on going into ministry instead of taking over the family business. He became involved with prison ministry while finishing up his degree in Chicago. He loved working with returning citizens so much that he thought about making it his career.
Eventually, Bob began interning as a chaplain at Tyger River Institution (TRI). During his time as a chaplain at TRI, he noticed a pattern. He saw people he had helped in prison be released only to reoffend and end up incarcerated once more. When he investigated why, he realized that many people attributed their failed reentry to the lack of employment. From then on, he recognized that the day people are released from prison, so many odds are stacked against them that inhibit their successful reintegration into society. Simply put, those returning from incarceration are often not set up for success.
Later on, Bob heard about JUMPSTART. With his background as a chaplain and awareness of the pressing issue of recidivism, he and Sarah became involved with the program because of the integrative approach JUMPSTART takes to breaking the cycle of crime in the lives of the men and women they serve.
According to Bob, JUMPSTART has cracked the code on successful reentry for various reasons, beginning with its unique founders: formerly incarcerated individuals. Because our founders have prior records, they understand the underlying root cause of the issue. An issue that is quite simple: people without support or programming like what we provide are not set up for success.
He believes that a prison sentence is a consequence of actions, not a solution to disrupt the cycle of crime. He also believes that JUMPSTART sets people up for success because we take a holistic approach to meet all of the needs of those who are currently and formerly incarcerated. Many people volunteer in prisons to evangelize, which is good, but unfortunately does not address all the needs people have.
JUMPSTART is a nonprofit that meets the physical AND spiritual needs of returning citizens, integrating both needs to ensure people live out their lives redemptively.
How do you maintain a healthy balance between spending time with family and friends, working, and volunteering?
He states that there is a lot of pressure to be successful. As a believer, I know that God sometimes does bless us with outward success, but God doesn’t specifically call us to be successful. He calls us to be faithful. He stresses the importance of striving to live faithfully, not perfectly.
We all encounter difficult circumstances. We must remember that any time we stumble or fall, we can get up and make it through the storm. Never forget that the successful men and women depicted in the Bible also experienced much hardship.
God does great work through broken people!
When juggling everything in your life, remember there are things outside of your control, try to live faithfully in the things you have control over, and trust in God to handle the worrisome aspects of life.
Advice on getting involved at JUMPSTART – donating, spreading awareness, and volunteering.
While financial support is required to make organizations and the world ‘go round,’ it is easier to write a check than to give of ourselves. We are all called to love our neighbors as ourselves.
Loving our neighbors as ourselves is not always an easy task. It can be messy. It often requires time and makes us vulnerable to being hurt, failing, or being taken advantage of. However, as we begin to deeply enter the stories of others and truly try to see from their point of view, we are also transformed.
The call to love our neighbor is not only about what we can give to them. While it involves the transformation that takes place in their life (in this case, a JUMPSTART participant), it is also about the transformation that happens in our own life. It’s about a significant shift in perspective around the individual, systems, oneself, and God that occurs through those relationships.
Bob Jr.’s hope for JUMPSTART’s future.
To see the success of JUMPSTART South Carolina replicated in many different states.
Bob Jr. shares the legacy he believes JUMPSTART participants and alumni want to leave behind for their families.
It is about the breaking of generational cycles. Generational cycles of:
Throughout the Bible, it is mentioned time and time again that the curse of sin is passed down to the third and fourth generations. However, there are also mentions of blessings passed down through a thousand generations.
Bob shares that, based on his interactions with program participants, their ultimate goal is to leave a lasting legacy that transitions from the curse to blessing!