Community Involvement

CDCR/CCHCS help families in need

Across California, staff from CDCR and CCHCS worked with nonprofit organizations, schools and community programs to help people in need.

Compiled by Don Chaddock, Inside CDCR editor

Ironwood State Prison team donates food, funds to community

Ironwood State Prison staff donate a check to the Blythe Police Department.
Ironwood State Prison leadership dropped off a check with the Blythe Police Department for the Civil Servants for Santa project.

By Uriel Avendano, Ironwood State Prison Times editor

To help those in need during the holidays, Ironwood State Prison (ISP) donated hundreds of pounds of food to a local meal program. Meanwhile, the incarcerated population on Facility B also raised $546.19 for the cause.

“Ironwood staff really wants to help the less fortunate, especially during this time of COVID-19. For three weeks we collected non-perishable food from staff to donate to Harmony Kitchen,” said Community Resource Manager Carey Ochs. “Facility B also really wanted to do something in conjunction with our staff food drive to contribute.”

Every year, Harmony Kitchen volunteers provide holiday meals to its clients. Given the impact of the pandemic, the donation helps.

“Staff understand how fortunate we are to have great jobs, when other businesses in town are struggling. We want to do our part to contribute to our local community and fellow man,” said Ochs. “We understand that the community is struggling to make ends meet during this pandemic. Ironwood staff and inmates are committed to our community and we are always willing to assist whenever we can.”

ISP leadership also delivered $1,136.97 to the Blythe Police Department on behalf of the incarcerated population. The funds go toward the annual Civil Servants for Santa project (which was held Dec. 5).

“(Ironwood’s incarcerated population) was really excited about doing something specifically for the children of our community,” Ochs said.

CSP-Sacramento helps children and seniors

By Lt. Steve Williamson

California State Prison, Sacramento, (SAC) staff were overjoyed to help over 75 children, foster youth, and seniors through the Gifts from the Heart Program.

While many celebrate the holidays surrounded by friends, family and gifts under the tree, this program remembers those who may be without, including local foster children, dependent adults and seniors.

For the last 30 years, the lives of thousands are touched each holiday season by Sacramento County’s Gifts from the Heart Program, an annual gift-giving program that runs from mid-November until early December. The program serves those within the Child Protective Services, and Senior and Adult Services of the Sacramento County Department of Child, Family and Adult Services.

Families of incarcerated people were not forgotten, thanks to the Prison Fellowship’s Angel Tree Program. A fall photo event raised $1,200, funding gifts and personal messages from incarcerated parents to their children.

Chuckawalla Valley State Prison continues giving tradition

Chuckawalla Valley State Prison and oversized check.
In early November, Chuckawalla Valley State Prison dropped off a check to the Blythe Cancer Resource Center. (Photo was taken prior to the procedure mask order.)

By Lt. JJ Hernandez

Thanks to the efforts of staff and the incarcerated population at Chuckawalla Valley State Prison (CVSP), the Blythe Cancer Resource Center (BCRC) received two generous donations totaling $21,875.50.

The first donation, totaling $20,270, was presented as part of CVSP’s sixth annual Gift Card Tree fundraiser. The second donation of $1,605.50 came from food sales to the incarcerated population.

BCRC assists local cancer victims with transportation costs and lodging for families.

“When it comes to cancer, everyone that I know of has been touched in one way or another. Whether they have had a family member or friend inflicted with the disease, we all know and experience the sorrow. But it is individuals like the Blythe Cancer Resource Center that want to defeat this in the end,” said CVSP Warden David Holbrook.

Organizers thanked the Employees’ Association, CVSP Executive Assistant Sandra Bolliger and to everyone else who participated in one form or another.

North Kern State Prison helps feed families

Thanksgiving baskets from the medical staff at North Kern State Prison.
Thanksgiving baskets from the medical staff at North Kern State Prison.

By Lt. Garry Garrett

In mid-November, North Kern State Prison held its annual Thanksgiving basket giveaway. The effort provides food and gift cards to 42 families throughout Kern County who otherwise might not have a thanksgiving dinner.

Staff from all areas of the prison enthusiastically participated in this event. In all, staff provided all the fixings to a traditional Thanksgiving meal along with $2,225 worth of gift cards to ensure each family could purchase a ham or turkey.

California City Correctional Facility helps families at Thanksgiving

By Lt. Sharman Parker

California City Correctional Facility’s (CAC) staff partnered with Bridge for Hope to deliver 75 Thanksgiving baskets to California City families in need this year. The baskets contained a family sized ham or turkey, along with side dishes and dessert. Bridge for Hope extended their sincere appreciation to all CAC staff.

DAPO provides food, supplies to parolees

Submitted by Ryan Youtsey, Parole Administrator

The Division of Adult Parole Operations, Adult Program Unit, joined forces with the staff at Immanuel House, Cal State Reentry Initiative (CSRI) and GEO Reentry Inc. to help parolees in need. They worked together to provide food and toiletry kits.

  • GEO Reentry Inc. staff brought 40 winter survival kits of wool caps, gloves, hand warmers, hand sanitizers and snacks for those in need. Agent Sean Nelson, Agent Sofia Gomez and Agent April Saucedo-Hood also participated.
  • CSRI staff served over 50 grab-and-go brown bag meals. They included a turkey sandwich, chips, fruit, a slice of pumpkin pie and bottled water. They also provided toiletry kits with soap, toothpaste and a toothbrush for transient parolees visiting the Riverside Parole Office.
  • Immanuel House donated 15 turkeys and a Thanksgiving dinner-to-go box containing salad, tomatoes, bag potatoes, milk, eggnog, granola bars, lunch meat, and chicken thighs. The boxes went to parolee families recommended by their agent of record.

Organizers thanked the community resource partners who volunteered their time to help bring assistance to those in need. They also thanked Parole Agent III Unit Supervisor Sheila Green-Beck, Parole Agent II Specialist Jennifer Swoboda (Anaheim) and Parole Agent II Anthony Marquez (Riverside) for their continued encouragement and support. Other participants included Anaheim with agents Sean Nelson, Sofia Gomez and Agent Saucedo-Hood, as well as Riverside agents Tamisha Hammons, Paul Silva, Daniel Mendoza and Denise Mack.

RJ Donovan helps with Teddy Bear Drive

The Teddy Bear and a local Sheriff's Department representative visited RJD Correctional Facility.
The Teddy Bear and a local Sheriff’s Department representative visited RJD Correctional Facility. (Photo taken prior to procedure mask requirement.)

By Rebecca Kroll, CRM Analyst

In the fall, Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility (RJD) partnered with Rady Children’s Hospital to support their Annual San Diego Regional Law Enforcement Teddy Bear Drive.

By late October, RJD had already gifted $8,364 to the campaign through internal fundraising efforts. The incarcerated populated raised a large portion of the donation. They said they wanted to positively impact the lives of youth undergoing cancer treatment.

Every year, more than 20 local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies join together to raise money for the cause. The Teddy Bear Drive funds the distribution of thousands of toys to patients, bereavement support, bedtime cart supplies, and other programs for the patients and their families.

Due to COVID-19, RJD officers were unable to visit patients for in-person events and toy deliveries. Instead, they invited the Rady Children’s Hospital Teddy Bear to RJD.

Lt. Hector Ferrel gave the bear and the San Diego Sheriff’s Department a tour of the facilities. 

RJD volunteers drive by hospital for light parade

RJD volunteers Lt. K. Cottrell, Lt. M. Keener, and CRM Marco Barragan.
From left are RJD volunteers Lt. K. Cottrell, Lt. M. Keener, and CRM Marco Barragan.

By Lt. Meghan Keener

In mid-December, RJD volunteers participated in the Light the Way parade.

Usually there is a Teddy Bear Breakfast and Rady Children’s Hospital but COVID restrictions forced a change. The children watched a dance montage broadcast into their rooms, compiled from submissions by the various participating agencies.

During the broadcast, local law enforcement and fire agencies staged their vehicles in front of the hospital. When the video ended, the cars proceeded to take two laps around the hospital while running lights and sirens. Children and families receiving care watched from the windows. Medical staff also lined the streets to wave.

Lt. Cottrell said, “I feel really fortunate for the health of my family and was happy to join in. I could see the excitement on the children’s faces as we drove by.”

Central California Women’s Facility bakes pizzas for fire victims

By Lt. Gene Norman

In September, the Central Valley was faced with devastating fires that damaged and destroyed the lives of many. The Creek Fire that engulfed that area was the largest single fire in California’s history.

The Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF) saw the impact the fire had on the community and decided to help with a pizza fundraiser benefiting the Madera Food Bank. Courtney Cipriani, CCWF’s Community Resources Manager, reached out to Pilot Travel Center Store 365 and asked if they could make pizzas for the event.

“At first, we weren’t even sure we had the tools to make that many pizzas, but once we heard about the fundraising effort at CCWF, we knew we needed to make it happen,” said Jairo Avalos, a Pilot Company Regional Manager.

Over a five-day period, Pilot’s team members made a record-breaking 2,263 pizzas. The effort took team members from four stores in the region to fill the order. Working together, Pilot’s teams made more than 500 pizzas each day with hourly pick-ups to ensure hot fresh pizza for the event. The incarcerated people and CCWF facilitators raised over $9,000 for the food bank.

“Having these fundraisers at our facility is a great way for those in our care to directly give back to charity or victims of crime, instilling a positive correctional presence in our community. On average, we raise $100,000 to $150,000 for charity each year,” said Cipriani. “I explained we were raising money for the Creek Fire and having the Madera Food Bank provide 40,000 pounds of food to those living in the affected area.”

To show support for the Madera community and the team members, Pilot matched CCWF’s donation, giving another $9,000 to help provide meals to families in need.

Learn more about the food bank.

CSP-Solano raises over $20,000 for charities

Solano prison staff present an oversized check to Child Haven.
From left are Chief Deputy Warden T. Tyler, a representative from Child Haven, and Warden (A) G. Matteson. (Photo was taken prior to the procedure mask requirement.)

Totaling all fundraisers held by CSP-Solano staff and the incarcerated population, roughly $20,000 was donated to the community.

After the last fundraiser was completed in October, the CSP-Solano tally reached over $12,000. Of that, $8,000 was donated to Child Haven based out of Fairfield. Child Haven was founded almost 40 years ago to serve vulnerable children and families. They offer a full array of mental and behavioral health, as well as developmental services to children and their families. Their skilled clinicians and family support staff provide intensive screening and assessment, diagnosis, treatment, parent education, and family support services. Child Haven partners with the Solano County Health and Social Services, Behavioral Health Division; First 5 Solano County; the North Bay Regional Center; the California Office of Emergency Services; and other community-based organizations to comprise the safety net of services for this community.

An additional $4,000 was donated to the Sacramento Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. The chapter covers communities from the Oregon border to the Sacramento Valley. The organization is active throughout the year with educational, programmatic, and outreach activities. The grassroots work focuses on eliminating the loss of life from suicide by: delivering innovative prevention programs, educating the public about risk factors and warning signs, raising funds for suicide research and programs, and reaching out to those individuals who have lost someone to suicide.

On Nov. 19, CSP-Solano staff donated two bins of clothes to the Fathers House/Vacaville Storehouse.

The CSP-SOL/PIA Joint Venture Program Customer Model Laundry provides a percentage of their profits into a Generic Restitution Fund and donates these funds to a non-profit organization that helps victims of crimes. CSP-SOL selected Empower Yolo to be this year’s recipient. Empower Yolo provides twenty-four hour crisis intervention, emergency shelter, confidential counseling, training, legal assistance, and other services for individuals and families affected by domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, human trafficking, and child abuse. The donation was for $4,385.36.

CSP-Solano also partnered with the Salvation Army to provide gifts to local children in foster care. Staff donated approximately $1,700 in gifts.

Also, CSP-Solano hosts an annual Flame of Hope Run where Special Olympics athletes, CSP-Solano staff, and inmates participate to raise awareness and funds for the athletes. This year, due to COVID-19, the event was cancelled, but the incarcerated population still wanted to support the athletes. They pooled their resources to donate $2,638.70.

Correctional Training Facility raises funds for men’s health

By Lt. Wil Landrum

During the month of November, for the 5th year, staff at CTF raised awareness for men’s health issues by supporting the Movember Foundation. This year the ante was raised, with CDCR approving Blue Patches.

Growing mustaches for 30 days, Nov. 1-30, the month ends with a mustache contest. The contest consists of three categories: Fullest Stache, Most Stylish, and the Hard Tryer. The event not only raises awareness, but also incorporates fundraising from staff.

The Movember Foundation raises awareness for some of the biggest health issues faced by men: prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health and suicide prevention.

The CTF Movember event has been coordinated by Capt. Darren Chamberlain since 2016.

“This year has been (difficult). Our employees needed something to help give a boost, which is why we moved forward with proposing a blue patch campaign. In the near future hopefully every law enforcement organization takes part with blue patches,” Chamberlain said.

Masks didn’t stop staff from taking part, even if they couldn’t show off their prize-winning mustaches. Winners were Lt. Sean Kelley for Fullest Stache, Correctional Counselor Robin Robinson for Most Stylish, and Hard Tryer went to Office Technician Drew Zavala.

CDCR leadership supported and approved the Blue Patch proposal. Though the initial supply of patches was low in the beginning of the month, CTF and Salinas Valley State Prison shipped hundreds of patches to other institutions.

This year’s fundraising included the sale of CDCR Blue patches and general donations. The event raised over $3,500 for the foundation.

Learn more about the Movember Foundation.