By Lance Eshelman, Community Resources Manager
Mule Creek State Prison
While surrounded by a world of change, acting Warden Patrick Covello called upon his leadership team to inspire hope among the inmate population while also helping the local business community.
In the small town of Ione, business owners are feeling the pressure. To use the prison’s foot print for good, the prison’s leadership team answered the call with a food sale fundraiser. Even under normal conditions, food sales test staff’s creative thinking.
With coronavirus protocols playing a major factor, and while keeping safety in mind, a food sale could create revenue for local businesses, afford the population an opportunity to give back to the community and incentivize good behavior.
After much consideration, the team developed a plan for the fundraiser, while incorporating the CDCR and CCHCS COVID-19 guidelines. Meetings were held with the vendor to ensure personal protective equipment was used.
The Inmate Advisory Council and Self-Help facilitators were tasked with reminding the inmate participants of the importance of wearing masks, washing their hands and practicing physical distancing.
Executive staff ensured resources were provided such as place markers to maintain physical distancing while inmates were in line to collect food. Cleaning supplies were used to wipe down tables after each use during the event and custody staff controlled the flow of traffic. One facility even had an inmate house band providing festive music in order to ease the mood on the yard and possibly attract new donors for the next food sale.
Overall the sale brought in $30,000 for Paisano’s Pizzeria of Ione/Jackson, and over $10,000 for the Ione Home Coming non-profit organization. At Mule Creek, there were 500 satisfied incarcerated customers who were able to enjoy the fruits of their labor while giving back to the community.