By Don Chaddock, Inside CDCR editor
Photos by CDCR Photographer Scott Sabicer

For more than half a century, California state employees have opened their wallets to help charity.

On Wednesday, Oct. 15, a state lawmaker, the mayor of Sacramento and California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation officials gathered for a non-profit fair aimed at promoting the Our Promise charitable giving campaign.

Held at CDCR headquarters, the fair sported live music, food and information booths, in addition to featured speakers.

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson thanks the CDCR employees for taking part in Our Promise.

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson thanks the CDCR employees for taking part in Our Promise.

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, who once headed up a charitable organization in addition to playing professional basketball, stopped by the fair to thank CDCR’s workers.

“I want to thank all y’all for having me here,” he told the crowd. “I came by to say thank you because you guys are giving in a big way. … I just want Sacramento to be a cool place and to get there is through local nonprofits you contribute your time and money to. … My grandfather always said charity begins at home.”

State Assemblymember Dr. Richard Pan has served on the United Way board of directors for a decade and he said one thing has been consistent: state workers give even when times are rough.

“What we noticed (at United Way) is even during those bad economic times with the cuts and furloughs, state workers were still giving. Thank you. It’s because you know giving supports your communities,” Pan told the gathering.

Stephanie McLemore Bray, CEO of the United Way Capitol Region, echoed Pan’s sentiments.

“Even through the roughest of times, the state employees stepped up to support the non-profits. And the non-profits are on the front lines providing services to those hardest hit and suffering,” she said. “Just $5 per month helps provide a healthy meal at school (to a kid) who doesn’t know if there will be a meal when he gets home. That $5 a month could support a child in our … reading program.”

An estimated 30 non-profits were on-hand at CDCR headquarters to answer questions.
Karissa Krater, a Special Olympics athlete, and her mother Christa Trinchera stood behind a booth promoting the Law Enforcement Torch Run.

Nonprofit groups were able to educate state workers about their groups' missions.

Nonprofit groups were able to educate state workers about their groups’ missions.

“Going inside the (CDCR) institutions has been such an amazing experience,” Trinchera said. “The interactions between the inmates and Karissa are touching. They tell her how brave she is and how proud they are of her.”

Krater, who has won more than 40 gold medals in the Special Olympics, said it means a lot to her to have the support of CDCR and other law enforcement agencies through the annual Law Enforcement Torch Run.

“It makes me feel really good,” she said.

Renee West, case manager of Elk Grove Food Bank, said the Our Promise campaign is important.

“Elk Grove Food Bank has been around for 40 years,” she said. “I’m here to let people know we do have a need for food and clothing in Elk Grove. We don’t want anyone to go hungry.”

Juli Kramer, with Sierra Forever Families, said the event represents a way to help get across the message for each non-profit.

“It’s our opportunity to share the information we have kids in foster care who need forever homes,” she said. “In Sacramento County, 2,900 kids are in foster care. … We’ve helped more than 3,000 kids have a brighter future because of a loving family through adoption.”

Kate Towson, fund developer with Women’s Empowerment, said the Our Promise fair is a way to directly connect with people.

“We don’t receive any government funding. It all comes from the local community,” she said. “It’s why we’re able to help end homelessness for women and children. This even helping bring awareness and gives us a chance, through support of the community, to raise funds to fight homelessness. I believe we will end homelessness in Sacramento.”

Kathleen Allison, Deputy Director for the CDCR Division of Adult Institutions’ Facility Support, said she is a longtime employee and a longtime giver.

Kathleen Allison, Deputy Director of DAI, speaks.

Kathleen Allison, Deputy Director of DAI’s Facility Support, speaks.

“All the institutions do an event so it’s fun to see it stretch all the way to headquarters,” she said. “I’ve personally been a contributor for over 20 years. … Whatever inspires you to donate, it’s time to look in your heart. … As a longtime employee, I know the hard work of this campaign.”

According to Allison, CDCR represents $1.7 million of annual charitable giving through Our Promise.

Cynthia Florez-DeLyon, Chief of the Office of Victims and Survivor Rights, served as the master of ceremonies.

“Every day we are touching people’s lives and working with victims, inmates and parolees,” she said. “There are organizations out there providing resources.”

The Honor Guard of California State Prison, Sacramento, opened the event with the presentation of colors. Mark Rodriguez, Chief of the Administrative Services Division, led the pledge of allegiance.

How to get involved: https://www.ourpromiseca.org/