Author: Odaliska Almonte
Lincoln Correctional Center has a long history of community involvement. As part of its commitment to helping those in need, the facility donates large quantities of produce to the local food banks, women's shelters and other organizations every year.
“Assisting the community is beneficial to the staff at Lincoln Correctional just as much as it is to the community,” said Daniel L. Brown, Associate Warden of Custody and Operations.
The Lincoln Correctional Community Outreach Team connected with the Lincoln County School District in early July to see where help was needed before students headed back to school.
“I was advised that there were 11 Title I schools in the county with many students and families that would be in need of assistance,” said Brown. “It was no surprise to me that the facility’s staff immediately jumped into action to help. Within the first few days we received most of the needed funds to reach our goal.”
The outreach team worked with Dr. Timothy Beam, Chief of Federal Program and Student Support with the Lincoln County School District, to arrange donations for all the essentials a student would need.
From July through early August, staff set their goal to assist 48 students, gathering donations of bookbags, folders, writing materials, erasers, sharpeners, coloring pencils, glue sticks, index cards, scissors and even ear buds. The total cost of donations totaled to approximately $800.
Dr. Beam acknowledged that the donations would benefit families within the county and greatly appreciated the team’s efforts.
Staff didn’t only focus on the material things; they wanted to make a meaningful connection with every child. In each bookbag staff included a card that contained words of encouragement so that students went to school knowing they were cared for by their community.
Offenders within the Alcoholism and Chemical Dependency Program (ACDP) were encouraged to participate as well. Under supervision, offenders wrote Dr. Seuss themed cards. The goal of this project was to encourage generosity and community involvement in participants.
On August 22, several Lincoln Correctional staff members teamed up with the Asbury Resource Center and Lincoln County schools for a Back-to-School Bash held for students of all ages. During the event, children could pick from donated clothing items, shoes, bookbags and school supplies. Staff volunteers manned stations, escorted families and worked as greeters to ensure all families that attended received a warm reception. Not only did this event help relieve stressors for families in need, but also provided a moment for these correctional professionals to step away from the pressure of their daily roles.
“It was a great opportunity for the staff to get involved with the community, and a great opportunity for the community to see our staff involved,” said Brown. “We had no idea who these families were, and they didn’t know us, yet somehow they became almost family. At the end of the day, our primary purpose in this life is to help others.”
A moment that stood out to Brown during the event was when a staff member showed compassion by going above and beyond to assist a participating family. According to Brown, a child was having a difficult time at the event and after finding out that he was autistic, Officer Sonia Crisp began interacting with him to help him feel more comfortable. With the permission of his caregiver, Officer Crisp pushed the child around the event space in a stroller for thirty minutes until his family had finished and was ready to leave. It’s actions like that of Officer Crisp and the rest of Lincoln Correctional staff during their back-to-school fundraiser that Brown feels demonstrates the power of giving and that the world is a great place.
During the back-to-school season, all divisions within the Department of Public Safety participated in the Governor's School Supply Drive. Collection bins were stationed at State Employees' Credit Unions statewide.
Lincoln Correctional Center staff volunteers for the Back-to-School Bash included: Warden Jeffrey McGhee, Associate Warden Daniel Brown, Programs Director Hazel Dula, Programs Supervisor Bobbie-Jo Williams, Sergeant Kendall Buford, Officer Sonia Crisp, Officer John Daugherty, Officer James Pitts, Ms. Summer Abernathy (ACDP Counselor), Mr. Kim Scoggins (ACDP Counselor), Mr. Danny Graves (ACDP/Recovery Road Counselor) and Mrs. Janet Ross (Accounting).