Washington Corrections Center for Women held its Volunteer and Charity Recognition event June 26, 2018.
The event recognizes and honors generous volunteers, donors and charities who gratefully accept gifts created by the women offenders who dedicate their time and talent to making the gifts. WCCW offenders donate to 25 charities and organizations annually with items ranging from machine-knit hats, to quilts, to specialty items like holiday stockings or hygiene bags.
“WCCW’s gym was transformed into a fine-dining area, with quilts on the walls,” said Melissa Johnson, public information officer of WCCW. “Our volunteers were served a nice lasagna meal and lovely entertainment by the WCCW API Ukulele group and serenaded by the WCCW choir. Volunteers are truly a pillar of strength for this facility: people we need, trust and value.”
WCCW Community Partnership Coordinator Chrislee McConnaughey said, “I love my job. We have over 700 volunteers who contributed nearly 15,000 hours this past year. We are so proud of them. This is quite an accomplishment and so very helpful. With our budget being in crisis, our volunteers donate their selfless services and provide programs that the state otherwise could not provide.”
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WCCW recognized Deborah Bass, a dedicated volunteer for over 19 years, with its Volunteer of the Year award.
“Working steadfastly through Biblescope Ministries’ Prison Fellowship and the Anticipate Re-Entry programs, Debbie offers the women of WCCW extensive opportunities to share a broad-variety of bible study classes and religious activities,” Johnson said. “Such programming has culminated in hundreds of training certificates being issued to our offender population through Biblescope Ministry.”
Associate Superintendent of Programs Felice Davis also praised Bass.
“Debbie, with an ever-ready smile and gentle manner, you have given countless hours of spiritual guidance and bereavement counseling through pastoral care, as well as providing new baby dedications for the mothers and their babies here at WCCW,” Davis said. “You have participated in and provided support at family friendly, cultural and holiday events, too many to count. Thank you for your tremendous commitment to prison ministry, and in particular to the women of Washington Corrections Center for Women. We are truly blessed and ever grateful for your love and support!”
Carrie Hesch is a recreations and athletics specialist at the prison.
“The Sisters of Charity works in a symbiotic relationship with many of our charities,” Hesch said. “Our charity program is only able to succeed because of the many donations we receive from the community. This is referred to as the Circle of Giving. The community donates to the charity, and the charity produces items to be given back out to the community.
“I could not do this event without my great offender crew!”
Marty Harrison is a WCCW volunteer.
“One of the reasons I go to prison and volunteer is I really care about the women, and I know that each one of them is valuable and that God has a plan and purpose for each one of them,” Harrison said. “I want to help them to recognize that they are valuable, and anything I can do to help them see that brings great joy to me. It also helps me to understand their needs and pray for them. Being in prison ministry brings great joy to my life, and hopefully I’ll be able to do it for many years to come.”
Other volunteers provide training in pottery, horticulture, bicycle repair, writing skills and other disciplines, including classes to enable inmates to achieve their GED diplomas.
The objective of these programs is to prepare offenders to re-enter society as productive, self-sustaining citizens.
In large measure, it’s working!