Volunteers put in nearly 15,000 hours of service to Miami Correctional Facility

Last Updated on May 19, 2015 by cassnetwork

This year Miami Correctional Facility (MCF) volunteers were able to hear straight from those who receive the benefits of their service in a special dinner recently in the facility’s Recreation Building.

Annually, MCF honors its volunteers with a dinner and gifts. It usually is filled with music and words of appreciation from both staff and offenders who sit on the sidelines. This year at least one offender from each of the volunteer-led programs was allowed to attend and share in the meal that was provided to volunteers. There were more than 60 volunteers and approximately the same amount of offenders celebrating Tuesday. Because of the size of the event, it was moved to one of the facility’s recreation buildings.

“It was a blessing to be able to show our gratitude to the people that have given us so much,” according to Offender Joseph Blackmer.

Volunteers donated 14,775.25 hours from April 2014 to March 2015. That total includes 11,655 hours from 34 groups and 3120.25 hours from 37 individual volunteers who donate time to the facility in the way of programs for the offenders.

The facility has more than 200 registered volunteers who devote their time and energy to providing programs to the offenders. The programs range from worship services and Bible studies to working with offenders who are about to reenter society.  The volunteers were treated to a dinner and a few mementos of appreciation. Members of the Offender American Legion Post 555 presented the colors to begin the evening.

“The fellowship was wonderful,” Offender Jeremiah Smith said. “It broke down the walls of what separate us in this situation. We were able to communicate and fellowship so freely. I had one (offender) tell me it made him forget he was in prison,” Smith added.

Offender Michael Redmon added, “I thought it was a great honor to express our appreciation to those who donate time to volunteer for us.”

Indiana Department of Correction Commissioner Bruce Lemmon also was present to thank the volunteers for their service. “I’m glad to see the program has grown. Volunteers are an important part of all our facilities and I thank you for what you do here at Miami,” Lemmon said. He said he was impressed with the number of hours being donated at Miami and was doubly impressed by the number of hours some individuals were putting in.

Superintendent Kathy Griffin who requested that program participants be allowed to attend the banquet, said she thought it was important that volunteers saw a familiar face in the crowd when they arrived. So many times the offenders may be the only faces they see because programs are taking place in the evenings and weekends, when the administrative staff are gone. “I have a great respect for all these individuals who take time out of their busy lives and give it to our residents. They may never know how many lives they touch by their service, but they keep coming in and being good role models.”

Each volunteer also took home a handmade cedar trinket box, made by Purposeful Living Units Service (PLUS) unit offenders. The PLUS program also donated gazebo jewelry boxes made out of Popsicle sticks and other arts and craft items for the door prize giveaway.

In addition, volunteers were given years of service pins.

Those recognized for five years of service included:

David Sward, Peggy Beck, Robert Bonesteel, Amy Binkerd, Daniel Rayl, Glenn McCroskery, and Delbert Hostetler.

Those recognized for 10 years of service included:

Marilyn Buddenhagen, Janis Chitwood, Kenneth Whited, and Steve Bluse.

Those recognized for 15 years of service included:

Robert Rhodes, RoseMary Rhodes, Evelyn Willis, Mike Gifford, Dan Bolinger, Jim Pratt, Michael Still, and James Thurston.

Some of the largest amount of hours came from the following volunteer groups:

  • Kairos group who donated 4,523 hours
  • Jack Brady’s groups including Bridges to Life and the Indiana Wesleyan Class with 825 hours
  • St. Charles Catholic Church/St. Patrick’s Catholic Church of Peru and Kokomo with 546.75 hours
  • Jehovah Witnesses of Peru with 296 hours

Those individual volunteers who donated more than 100 hours of service include:

  • Gaylord Kramer of Hartford City with 608.25 hours
  • David Quick of Peru with 571.5 hours
  • Evelyn Willis of Kokomo with 257 hours
  • Gladys Ash of Kokomo with 214.5 hours
  • Raymond Koons of Peru with 183 hours
  • Keith Townsend of Kokomo with 148.5 hours
  • Marvin Hamilton of Logansport with 147.5 hours
  • David Duke of Peru with 142.25

Offender Antrone Crockett, the guest speaker, summed the evening up in his speech. “So many people both in society and prison because of stereotypes, biases and so forth, elect to ignore the human factor and in turn choose to consciously lock out any positive view that can be gained. Warm-hearted acts of charity are something that should never be overlooked and by no means should they ever be taken for granted either by someone locked away or free. It is these types of acts that you display with benevolent unconscious intention that produces the opportunity to allow a direct and internal view inwardly where we can connect within ourselves a dormant quality that may have been overlooked until now, a heart of charity.”

SOURCE: News release from Miami Correctional Facility