By Lt. Christene Zoucha, AA/PIO, DVI
Inmates driven by a mission to help others have established Mending Fences, an official Inmate Leisure Time Activity Group (ILTAG) at Deuel Vocational Institution (DVI). Prior to this it was a grass roots group founded by inmate A. Adams.
Mending Fences’ unique focus is to raise awareness within the inmate population of the importance of giving back to the community through charitable organizations.
In 2016, Mending Fences hosted the second Northern Special Olympics 5K Walkathon. Inmates participated in the event by running or walking the 5K, raising money donated by the participants and or pledges throughout the inmate population.
Next up, the group is planning on a Mother’s Day photo project with all profits going towards autism.
Additional charitable projects are already planned to support St. Jude’s, “Be the Match”, M.A.D.D. and other Northern Special Olympic Walkathons.
Many of men feel they have broken their ties to the community and with society as a whole. Mending Fences provides a positive way for them to begin the journey of making amends to the community, repaying a debt owed to society and to be a part of making the Northern Special Olympics such a wonderful success.
“This event is very near and dear to our hearts,” said an inmate participant. “The Special Olympics athletes are a tremendous source of inspiration to all. We see the great amount of effort they face to overcome adversities in their lives and the courage they showcase to the world and we seek to encourage and champion them in their achievements.”
The men of DVI came together and walked or ran a 5K. They said the Special Olympics athletes inspired the men of DVI to face their own adversities and to try and overcome their own challenges.
Adams created Mending Fences not only as a way for himself to make amends, but to give others an outlet to give back to the community and to make their own amends. His vision is to raise awareness for these charities and to unite the men of DVI in a conscious effort of giving back to the community.
Sponsor Gloria Montes de Oca said, “The “Mending Fences program is unique, as it reconnects the gentlemen with the community. It’s a way for them to make amends to society. These men are honored to have the opportunity to give back to the community while incarcerated and it prepares them to give back to their communities when they leave.”