Community Involvement, Rehabilitation

Guitars hand‑painted at Pelican Bay net $11k for children

Incarcerated men and prison employees hold up an oversized check for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
Incarcerated artists at Pelican Bay State Prison donated custom guitars to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital's annual Radio-Thon fundraiser.

Guitar auction helps St. Jude treat pediatric diseases

Pelican Bay State Prison Mural Crew artists recently collaborated with the Crescent City Bicoastal Media radio stations in raising money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Six guitars were donated by Bicoastal Media to be hand-painted by the artists and auctioned on eBay, with all proceeds donated to St Jude’s.

The theme for the St. Jude Radio-thon fundraiser was “Country Against Cancer.” Keeping that in mind, the guitar themes were: Country Legends, Redwood Country, Johnny Cash -The Man in Black, Freedom Isn’t Free, Military Branches and a special St. Jude Kids guitar. As a result of the artists’ hard work, the guitars raised $11,150 for St. Jude’s in the March auction.

Project was about more than guitars

All the artists donated multiple hours of their time and used their own personal art supplies to complete this project. They expressed that the project allowed them to give back to the community and gave them a sense of purpose. As a result, all involved saw it as a win/win.

Thanks to the success of this year’s project, the artists are already making plans for next year’s radio thon. If you missed the auction this year, get ready to bid on next year’s guitars. PBSP’s leadership would like to thank all the artists involved in the collaboration. This includes Derron McLead, Uriel Gonzalez, Jeffrey Newvine, Giang Nguyen, Fernando Viera, Curtis Carroll, John Saesee, Bunthoeun Roeung and Kevin Yocum.

Artists share thoughts on guitar project

John Saesee

“When we were first presented with this amazing opportunity, I thought to myself, WOW! How fortunate we are to be able to contribute to such a worthy cause. I would never have thought how satisfying it is to create images and scenes with beautiful colors. This newfound joy has given me inner peace that makes me want to live a life of service for others. That is why I am grateful to be able to take part in helping the children at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.”

Bunthoeun Roeung

“Having the opportunity to produce art for a sacred and significant cause for the children of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is a treasured gift that I humbly accepted and cherished with deep gratitude and love. While painting on the guitars my mind and energy were centered on helping the children and their families find some comfort, hope and security.”

Giang Nguyen

“When CCII T. Hutzell and D Facility Captain J. Berg selected me to participate in such a worthy and charitable cause such as St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, I felt honored and privileged. To be able to use my talent to benefit kids is a major highlight of my life. I sincerely hope that this continues because not only does a program like this help such an amazing charity. It gives me and other men in the program purpose and a chance to give back as part of our healing process.

“Hopefully with the collaboration of staff and the incarcerated men at Pelican Bay, events like this will be a common occurrence, so that we could showcase the changes occurring in Pelican Bay and ultimately begin to change the image. Also, a special than you to Warden J. Robertson, A.W. Pepiot, and the staff for their leadership and support in making this happen.”

Fernando Viera

“I am eternally grateful for this opportunity to do something for the kids at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Thank you St. Jude for helping so many children. Thank you Mr. Hutzell, Warden Robertson, Captain Berg, my family of fellow artists and Bi-Coastal Media’s KCRE and KPOD for donating the guitars and helping us with the auction.

“Little did I know that Pelican Bay would change my life for the better? I didn’t arrive here by choice, but today I count it a blessing to be here. I am thankful to the administration in charge, starting with the correctional officers up to the highest ranks for their efforts to making this level 2 the best in the state. The opportunity given me to participate in the Arts Beautification program is incredibly gratifying because I am able to help produce art that I hope would be inspirational for people. When my fellow inmates and staff compliment my artwork it gives me a sense of satisfaction. But more importantly, it makes me feel that I am helping others besides just myself.”

Jeff Newvine

“I am 51 years old and 27 years into serving a sentence of life without parole. As a member of Pelican Bay’s Mural Crew, I was honored to be asked to participate in transforming guitars into works of art. Taking part in any cause for children is a privilege, but St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital has always held a special place in my heart. How could it not, with little kids fighting cancer, fighting for their lives? They are an inspiration to us all.

“God bless St. Jude’s for removing the financial burden from the equation, providing the health care these courageous children desperately need to survive and for allowing their parents to do what every good parent wants, to simply be there for their child and give them all the love and support they need. I would like to send a special thanks to KCRE 94.3 FM and KPOD 97.9 FM for their generous donation of the six guitars and for their collaboration with the auctioning effort for this charitable project.”

Uriel Gonzalez

“Hello, my name is Uriel Gonzalez and I would like to thank everyone involved in putting this endeavor together, in granting this inside community the opportunity to reach outside these restrictive parameters, being able to contribute a little time, effort and skill to those in need. My prayers are with every dearly beloved soul at St. Jude and hoping this drop in the bucket is of benefit physically, emotionally and spiritually.”

Derron Mclead

“My name is Derron McLead and it has been a blessing to be asked to extend our artistic creation to such a noble and heartfelt caus.This is such a moving experience for me, knowing that the guitars with hand painted art work will be donated to the St. Jude fundraiser.”

Curtis Carroll

“My name is Curtis ‘Wall Street’ Carroll and I am a member of the Pelican Bay Mural Crew. We have collaborated with local Radio Stations KCRE FM and KPOD FM who donated guitars that we painted and were auctioned off to benefit St. Jude’s. It’s been an honor and a privilege to participate in a project that can provide resources to children. Children are the future, but don’t always get the opportunity to grow into their dreams for reasons out of their control. I hope these guitars bring smiles to the faces of the children and their care givers. It softens my heart to know that we have helped to better the lives of children.”

Kevin Yocum

“I am extremely grateful to all of the administrators and staff here at PBSP’s level 2 facility for striving to make this a positive programming facility where men can change for the better if they are willing to get out of their comfort zona and participate. When I was faced with the prospect of having to transfer to a level 2 facility, I voluntarily chose to return to Pelican Bay. It was the best decision I could have ever made. I was invited to participate in the Arts and beautification program which taught the basics of acrylic painting and it quite simply changed my life for the better. I’ve discovered a way to express myself through art.

“The most rewarding project we have done is painting guitars to be auctioned off to benefit St. Jude Children’s Hospital. This project has given all of us a chance to be defined, if only for a brief moment, by something other than the worst moments of our lives.”

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