California Correctional Institution (CCI) recently held its first golf tournament at the Rio Bravo Country Club in Bakersfield. Inspired after the passing of a retired employee, CCI put together the fundraiser in a little over two months. Despite the time frame, they raised over $10,000 to help children.
On April 4, after attending a funeral for a retired employee, Warden W.J. “Joe” Sullivan asked Lt. Elias Garcia if the institution’s staff would be up for a small golf tournament. The warden thought it would create an opportunity for them to enjoy being together somewhere other than work.
Garcia immediately set the idea in motion, calling on Lt. Eric “Bart” Barthelmes, whose skills at planning and organizing are exceptional. Together, they cobbled together a committee of some of the institution’s best golfers.
Committee gets to work organizing a fundraiser golf tournament
Bart called upon Correctional Officers Cody Bloxom, Jason Fabrie and Steve Dickerson. Within four days of inception, a committee was formed and the team met in the Warden’s Conference Room. Through all the excitement, the team felt something was missing so Fabrie suggested they needed a rookie.
Officer Casey Butler, with only eight months in the department, was also a golf pro at Rio Bravo. HJe procured Rio Bravo Golf Course as the tournament site.
While CCI and the police department donate toys during the holidays to Jamison Children’s Center, Garcia thought they could use extra help.
Joy Johnson, the center’s director, gave him a tour of the center.
“It was humbling. I was awestruck to see the interaction of the men and women at the center with the children. They were patient, kind, and caring,” Garcia said.
Roughly 100 kids are taken in monthly and cared for until they are placed with family or foster parents.
Within seven days of inception, Garcia scheduled a meeting with the warden and planning committee.
“I was a concerned about the short amount of time, but am proud of the work they did,” Sullivan said.
Butler secured local sponsors in Bakersfield and Porterville, all during his off-hours. The California Correctional Peace Officers Association also came through with a donation of $500 dollars, boosting the final total.
“I can’t believe these guys pulled this off in such little time. They are a wonderful example of the staff that CCI have working there. We have the best staff. I hope we can continue to help the Jamison Center any way we can,” Sullivan said.