By Lt. Mike Tuntakit, AA/Public Information Officer
Avenal State Prison
Dedicated volunteers were recently recognized for their efforts by the staff at Avenal State Prison (ASP).
On May 13, ASP thanked the volunteers who donated their time and provide excellent services for the inmates year after year. Guest speakers included Kathleen Allison, Director of the Division of Adult Institutions; acting Warden Rosemary Ndoh, Chief Deputy Warden (RA) Brian Duffy, Community Resources Manager Larry Chavarria, Chaplain Salaam, Chaplain Castro, and Lt. Mike Tuntakit, served as the master of ceremonies.
Warden Ndoh has been a believer in showing appreciation to the staff for a job well done. ASP has received positive words statewide, regarding all of its programs and people who make them happen.
The banquet allowed ASP to show recognition to all of the volunteers who continue to give their time, knowledge, support and heart to ASP programs. The ASP administration team and managers were honored to prepare, serve lunch, and remind the volunteers how much their dedication is appreciated.
Some of the volunteers have been volunteering their services for 25-30 years, one of which had only missed two meetings in the 30 years of sitting on the Citizens Advisory Committee.
The honored guest included Religious Volunteers, Self Help Sponsors, Guiding Rage Into Power, Prison Fellowship, Bill Glass, Celebrate Recovery, members of Avenal Police Department including Chief of Police Russell Stivers and members of the Inmate Family Council (IFC). The IFC members were given a tour of the institution by Warden Ndoh and the PIO. The tour was something that hasn’t happened at ASP in nearly 30 years.
Some of the focuses were, “Today’s inmates are tomorrow’s neighbors.”
Three selected inmates, who are part of many different programs at ASP, were given an opportunity to speak. The inmates’ words hit home to many in the room. The inmates thanked all the volunteers for sharing their time, being passionate about what they do, and helping them change their lives when no one else would. The inmates told their stories and spoke about difference all the volunteers have made in not only their lives, but spoke for the majority of the inmate population.
At the end of their story, the audience gave a standing ovation. One person in the audience shouted, “you can be my neighbor.” It was a testament to the power of the rehabilitative programs at ASP.