Not far removed from his high-profile prison release, former inmate Matthew Charles was struggling to find a place to live because of the stigma of his record.
In a Facebook post about his situation, Charles admitted he has made mistakes, though he said the crimes he committed “occurred back in 1988 when I was completely young, dumb, and wrong.” Regardless, they follow him.
“If having a place to live and a job to work are essential for every citizen,” he wrote, “why would that not be the essential case for every citizen, regardless of being a past convicted felon?”
Not long after The Tennessean published a story about the Nashville native’s predicament, socialite Kim Kardashian, who has been at the forefront of the fight for criminal justice reform, stepped in to help.
The “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” star agreed this week to pay Charles’ rent for the next five years.
“Kim reached out privately to Matthew yesterday after hearing he was having a hard time getting approved for an apartment and has generously offered to pay five years of his rent,” Tim Hardiman, a senior producer for CMT Nashville, told Us Weekly. “He was overwhelmed by Kim’s offer and graciously accepted. Her generosity will allow him to save enough money to eventually put a down payment on a house.”
“It’s truly changed his life,” he added.
Charles, who spoke recently to Faithwire about his own Christian faith, posted a message on Facebook earlier this week, thanking Kardashian for her kindness.
“Kim did not do this for attention or publicity, but I had to share it, because it’s too good not to, and my heart is about to burst with happiness,” he wrote. “I wish you to rejoice in this news with me.”
Charles’ story was elevated thanks, in part, to Kardashian, who posted about his case on social media and ultimately met with President Donald Trump to discuss the issue of prison reform.
Those conversations ultimately led to the president signing the bipartisan First Step Act, which, among other things, reduced mandatory minimums for a number of drug-related crimes. Charles was the first beneficiary of the new law.
Why is this important?
For the most part, if any Kardashian makes headlines, it’s usually over some family drama. But this story is a bit different.
Kim Kardashian’s advocacy for Charles and her willingness to pay his rent for the next five years really showcases the importance of decency and kindness in an intensely divisive era.
Whether everyone accepts it now or not, we are all God’s image bearers and our propensity to help one another is a hint of his moral thread woven into our existence. It is God’s innate imprint on humanity.
God reveals himself through the actions of those who might be far from him by using those people to set an example of what it looks like to sacrifice, to give for someone else’s gain.