Community Involvement

CTF tackles men’s, women’s health issues with special fundraisers

Correctional staff, some sporting mustaches.
From left are Sean Kelley, Donnie Metcalf, Darren Chamberlain, Kirk Hoffman, Robin Robinson, Ana Madrigal, Lisa Wade, and (front) Amber Martinez.

Health fundraisers include Movember, Pink Patch and Relay for Life at CTF

By Lt. Krystle Binning

During the month of November, for the fourth year, staff at the Correctional Training Facility in Soledad raised awareness for men’s health issues by supporting the Movember Foundation. Efforts to do so were by growing mustaches for 30 days, ending the month with a mustache contest.

The contest consists of three categories: Fullest Stache, Most Stylish, and the Hard Tryer award. The event not only raised awareness, but also incorporated fundraising from staff to support this nonprofit organization.

CTF employee sports a handlebar mustache for a men's health fundraiser.
CTF Chief Deputy Warden Kirk Hoffman sporting a mustache for the Movember Foundation’s men’s health fundraiser.

The goal of the Movember Foundation is to stop men dying too young by addressing some of the biggest health issues faced by men: prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health and suicide prevention.

Since 2016, the CTF Movember event has been coordinated by Capt. Darren Chamberlain.

“In the near future I hope CDCR will adopt a Blue Patch campaign such as the current Pink Patch campaign that almost every law enforcement organization takes part in during October. Why not lead the way; be the first by getting blue patches out there in November. Let the rest follow our lead,” Chamberlain said.

Warden Craig Koenig, a previous recipient of the Hard Tryer award, has supported this event since he arrived at CTF.

“CTF’s goal each year is to raise the awareness of serious men’s health issues in a fun and encouraging manner staff can enjoy throughout the month. Events such as this improve the health of our staff, whether they may know it or not. It gets people to have those conversations about health issues they may not otherwise discuss. And the light-heartedness of growing mustaches and the fun people have with it reduces the stresses our staff face daily,” Warden Koenig said.

The beard contest winners

Recipients of this year’s mustache contest were Fullest Stache: CCI Robin Robinson; Most Stylish: CDW Kirk Hoffman; and Hard Tryer: Sgt. Sean Kelley. To ensure Sgt. Kelley does not get the Hard Tryer award in the future, he was presented a gift card for Outback Steakhouse and a bottle of Beard Boost tonic.

“Sean got an unfair shake this year. He went up against some stiff competition, but with that bottle of Beard Boost, the competition better watch out next year,” Hoffman said.

The CTF health fundraisers included the sale of CDCR Blue Ribbon lapel pins (thanks to RJD for their contribution), beard exemptions and general donations. The goal was $3,500, but they went over that to raise $3,700. Last year, CTF raised $3,160.

Pink Patch Project

In addition to the Movember event, during October staff at CTF raised breast cancer awareness by taking part in the pink patch project, as well as selling pink patch lapel pins. The employees raised $1,370 for the Breast Cancer Assistance Group of Monterey County.

CTF inmates and people in purple shirts walk in a prison yard. for a health fundraiser.
Inmates, volunteers and staff walk at CTF for Relay for Life.

CTF’s Relay for Life health fundraisers

The population at CTF Soledad held health fundraisers with the fourth annual Relay for Life walk. The Balanced Re-entry Activity Group (BRAG) organized the walk on Central Facility’s yard. They received support from staff, volunteers and the Salinas Relay for Life Event leadership team. This year the BRAG group from Facilities A and B also joined in and had their own event, on a much smaller scale.

The event had an opening ceremony, presentation of the color guard, a national anthem, a survivor lap, followed by presentation of team laps. Incarcerated participants took part in a variety of friendly games and contests for donated prizes.

Music, walking and fun

CALPIA staff member Anthony Storelli and his band “The Counters,” which includes Jason Ross and Doug Guettler, volunteered to perform throughout the day. During intermissions music was being played by inmate Rob Young from his music playlist on his tablet.

Each participant received a team photo.

Participants were gifted with donations of commissary items from Walkenhorst’s, Union Supply Direct and Access Securepak. 

From volunteers to walkers, people were treated to fresh watermelon donated by Boggiatto Produce, Inc. 

Lending support from the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) Relay for Life Salinas event were Co-Chairs Peggy Borchard, Jackie Gash, Crystal Andon, ACS Community Development Manager, and Jennifer Highland, Community Development Senior Manager, West Region.  

Volunteer driven event

Additional volunteers attending were Marge Sanford, Debbie Miller-King and her husband retired Correctional Officer Paul King, and Don Houpt. Both Jackie and Marge are fellow cancer survivors. Also in attendance, Public Information Officer (A) Lt. Carlos Espinoza, Community Resources Manager A. Tamayo and various free staff volunteers.

The luminaria ceremony was dedicated to Araceli Bernadasci, ACS Volunteer, who lost her fight to cancer earlier this year.

This year inmates provided pre-decorated white luminaria bags and donated artwork pieces, which were sold at the various Salinas fundraising events, online, and at the Salinas Relay for Life event held in May 2019. 

This year CTF-Soledad had 71 teams and over 700 participants raising $15,666.11.   

The top three fundraising teams were:

  • Monsters Inc: $3,735
  • Facilities A/B BRAG: $2,299
  • Healing Power: $875

Learn more about Relay for Life, Movember and the Pink Patch Project. Read more stories on CDCR’s community involvement.