From left are Frank Shaw, PIA Manager; Rocco Papietro, Administrator; Josie Gastelo, Warden; participating inmates; Karen Borges, Executive Director Jack’s Helping Hand; Danny Samuel, Chief Deputy Warden; Jill Gentilly, Jack’s Helping Hand; and Cammie Gonzalez, Industrial Supervisor.

By Michele Kane, Chief of External Affairs
California Prison Industry Authority

For the second year in a row, offenders working for the California Prison Industry Authority (CALPIA) at the California Men’s Colony (CMC) are giving back to the community.

The men raised money for the non-profit organization, Jack’s Helping Hand, which provides assistance and programs to children with cancer and special needs. There were 169 men who donated to the cause, raising over $2,065.

“These men exceeded our expectations and really jumped on this challenge of improving the lives of others,” said CMC Warden Josie Gastelo. “This kind of generosity strengthens those ties not only with the community, but with staff and offenders who are working inside the institution.”

Last year the men donated $1,447 to the community based Family Care Network, an organization that assists with clinical services and treatment programs for families and children.

“The men came up with this idea and reached out to us saying they wanted to give back,” said CALPIA Administrator Rocco Papietro. “What makes this so special, each year they want nothing in return, just the satisfaction of helping others and making a positive difference.”

Lonnie Stringer led the offender steering committee.

“Over the years I have given to several charitable causes, and then the light bulb came on as to how I could get other co-workers involved in donating which would allow for a larger donation to be made,” said Stringer.

The men plan on donating to another worthy organization next year.

“Being able to give back to society through charitable causes and encouraging others to do the same, gives me a sense of selflessness, humility and compassion.”