Life CYCLE inmates present a check to the Ronald McDonald House charity. The inmates raised funds and donated thousands of soda pop tabs to the cause.

Life CYCLE inmates present a check to the Ronald McDonald House charity. The inmates raised funds and donated thousands of soda pop tabs to the cause.

By Lt. Roland Ramon, AA/Public Information Officer
Correctional Training Facility

Inmates from a youth mentoring group known as Life CYCLE (Careless Youth Corrected by Lifer’s Experience) created a project for the other inmates to benefit a local charity.

For the last eight months, inmates have been collecting soda can tabs, also known as “pop tabs,” to donate to the Ronald McDonald House of Orange. The charity is known for helping families with children fighting cancer, serious illnesses or injuries. Sometimes their treatments last for days, weeks, and even years, thus creating a hardship for these families. The recycling of soda pop tabs promotes an on-going fundraising program that helps support their mission.

The mission of the Pop Tab drive is to bring awareness about childhood cancer and to inform the CTF community there is a resource that be be utilized in the recycling efforts.

The Life CYCLE group promotes change, growth and transformation to individuals by instilling responsibility, accountability along with goal- and vision-setting, while stressing the importance of providing a positive service to the community.

The Pop Tab project was also created to build Community and to inspire the inmates to see what is possible when they decide to live responsibly and to work together toward a common goal.  The inmates began collecting pop tabs for the Ronald McDonald House, in their housing units, work areas and on the recreational yard.

A pound of the metal tabs equaled collecting 1,267 Pop Tabs.  All together, a total of 18 pounds of Pop Tabs, roughly 22,800, were collected.  The Life CYCLE group conducted the fundraiser which required inmate representatives to go door-to-door in the housing units, and speak with other inmates about the recycle project and the importance of being of service.  To supplement the project Life CYCLE’s members were challenged to raise funds to supplement the Pop Tab drive.  The Life CYCLE members were able to raise $ 2,249 in donations.

For a lot of the men, this was their first time participating in a project like this.  It challenged the men to step out of their comfort zone.  They spoke of the “importance of them giving back, about being inspired by this project.”

Some men spoke about how the Life CYCLE group has helped them with their own transformation. Life CYCLE members credit the group’s success to the sponsors. “Our sponsors get behind us and support us. They have a strong interest in rehabilitation.”

“Programs and projects such as this one give these inmates a chance to reflect on themselves, who they are, who they were, and who they are becoming by participating in projects that give to the community,” said Correctional Counselor Teresa Verdesoto.

The men said without CCI Verdesoto’s guidance, the Ronald McDonald House project would not have been possible. She was instrumental throughout the whole project.

One mentor said, “It felt good to know that I have a direct impact on a family, whose child might be going through some tough times. This was a turning point for me in my life.”

Another mentor said, “I graduated from Life CYCLE group and when I heard what the group was planning on doing this project with the Ronald McDonald House, I had to be involved.  My own child and family was helped by the Ronald McDonald House program, so I wanted to give back to them and show my deep appreciation for what this organization did for my family.”

Life CYCLE presented a check along with 18 pounds of pop tabs to Ronald McDonald House Executive Director Noel Burcelis.

Burcelis said the Ronald McDonald House is grateful to the men from Life CYCLE for their donation. He explained how this donation will help families of the Ronald Mcdonald organization.

“I felt the genuine concern about the community from the men who shared their testimonies and reason they created the Pop Tab project,” he said. “It was obvious they wanted to give back. CTF administrators are very supportive of this group.”

From left are Noel Burcelis, Executive Director of the Ronald McDonald House of Orange County, Correctitonal Counselor T. Verdesoto, volunteer Mitchell Estrada and Lt. Roland Ramon, Public Information OfficerFrom left are Noel Burcelis, Executive Director of the Ronald McDonald House of Orange County, Correctitonal Counselor T. Verdesoto, volunteer Mitchell Estrada and Lt. Roland Ramon, Public Information Officer.

From left are Noel Burcelis, Executive Director of the Ronald McDonald House of Orange County, Correctional Counselor Teresa Verdesoto, volunteer Mitchell Estrada and Lt. Roland Ramon, Public Information Officer.