By Lt. Mike Tuntakit
Avenal State Prison’s Youth Offender Program (YOP) incarcerated men on Facility B approached Correctional Counselor Denise Crenshaw with an idea to make cotton-blend face mask barriers to be given to first responders.
Counselor Crenshaw brought the idea to Lorraine Lopez, ASP’s Correctional Business Manager, who spearheaded the idea and put it into action.
“It was a good vision on their part and that of prison administrators to facilitate this project,” Lopez said. “A tremendous quantity of materials have been donated primarily by the inmate family members and staff. The inmates have been producing masks for weeks and will continue during these critical times of shortages. They are working tirelessly, some even sewing by hand, to keep the mask production moving.”
The YOP masks were offered to the prison staff as well as local first responders.
Another group of inmates on Facility D are doing the same and have begun to make mask for the inmate population as well.
“It is great to see the culture of ASP inmates who determined to make a difference in their community,” said organizers.
When asked, one inmate said, “These are not the N95 masks, but they are washable and reusable.” Another said, “We are helping the situation and that feels better that just caring about ourselves”.