Awards and Appreciation, Division of Juvenile Justice

DJJ holiday tradition returns for last time

Santa and Christmas tree with people standing in front.
Retiring Asst. Superintendent Jennie Dillon laughs as DJJ Director Heather Bowlds, right, honors her and retiring Superintendent Maria Harper as Santa Claus and Deputy Director Jason Lowe look on.

DJJ managers celebrate staff in holiday tradition feast

How sweet it was as a long holiday tradition of managers serving staff a sumptuous holiday feast resumed at the Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) this year.

At Stockton’s Northern California Youth Correctional Facility, managers and executives arrived at “zero dark thirty” Dec. 8 to set up and prepare a special feast. They served omelets and waffles cooked to order for staff finishing first watch and those arriving for their day shifts. Staff included custody, programming, education, administration and facilities management. Staff were greeted by jolly elves, who shepherded with good cheer through serving lines and staged photo backdrops.

Ventura facility features southern style menu

At Ventura Youth Correctional Facility, the Community Resources Manager, management staff and chaplains organized a southern style brunch Dec. 15. The menu consisted of chicken and waffles, biscuits and gravy, shrimp and grits, as well as eggs, sausage, fruit salad, cakes and pastries. This all happened while jolly Kris Kringle stood duty for photos and handed out door prizes.  

Each table had a colorfully lit centerpiece with overhead decorations as the Ventura “Old Visiting” hall was transformed into a holiday extravaganza. There was a karaoke area for wannabe crooners singing holiday favorites and a yule log backdrop for photos.  DJJ youth created a life sized sleigh using corrugated cardboard to complete the holiday tableau.

DJJ Director Heather Bowlds attended each event, addressing staff with a message of thanks. This marks the last holiday gathering before juvenile justice realignment brings the Division to a close in June 2023.

At Ventura, it was truly bitter-sweet as Superintendent Maria Harper and Assistant Superintendent Jennie Dillon are both retiring this month. They were honored at the luncheon for their decades of service.

The holiday events were paid for entirely with donations from DJJ staff managers. Door prizes were donated by the California Correctional Peace Officers Association.  

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