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Story by Don Chaddock, Inside CDCR editor
Photos by Scott Sabicer, Director, CDCR Television Communications Center

(Editor’s note: Some websites may not be accessible from a CDCR computer.)

CDCR’s chairperson for the Our Promise campaign was busy overseeing the setup for the kick-off event at the department headquarters as charitable organizations set up displays and tables. With 2017 marking the 60th year for the state employee charitable giving campaign, there were many reasons to celebrate. Learn more about the Our Promise campaign at https://www.ourpromiseca.org/. The campaign runs through Oct. 31.

CDCR’s Our Promise campaign chairperson Corinne M. Isberner, Attorney III with the Office of Legal Affairs, welcomed the crowd and introduced CDCR Secretary Scott Kernan.

“Given the (recent) events in Texas and Florida, this is an excellent time to kick-off Our Promise,” he said.

Kernan pointed out numerous charitable organizations offer rehabilitative and restorative justice services inside the prisons through volunteerism.

“Last year, $570,000 was raised from CDCR in Our Promise,” he said. “That was up $58,000 from the previous year when the rest of the state contributions, when broken down by agency, went down. This year the goal is $630,000 and I’m sure we will achieve it.”

Ashley Poritz, head of the Our Promise campaign, said events such as the kick-off help with efforts to educate state workers about the organizations who benefit from contributions.

“We raised $6.2 million statewide and that’s just from state employees,” she said. “We want to make sure people are informed on what they can contribute to.”

Some of those charitable organizations were on-hand at the event to answer questions and bring awareness to their causes.

Shannon McPhedran, senior community engagement manager for the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Sacramento, said their goal to is help prevent kids from going down the wrong path. In this way, they have been proactive and are one of just a handful to open a club inside juvenile hall.

“We’re only the fifth Boys and Girls Club in California to have a club in juvenile hall,” she said. “Its goal is to reduce recidivism. We hope when the kids get involved with the club, they can transition out to the club at the continuation high school and the teen center in downtown Sacramento. We work with Sacramento County Probation at these facilities.”

The Sacramento organization operates nine different locations. They will also soon be opening one near Elk Grove.

Learn more at https://bgcsac.org/

Runnin’ for Rhett was started 10 years ago as a way for grieving parents to honor their son’s memory.

“Rhett Seevers was born on Feb. 7, 1997. His proud parents, Beth and Randy, brought home their bundle of joy to join their family of four,” the organization’s website states.

When he was 4 months old, he was diagnosed with severe cerebral palsy. After seven years of full-time care, he passed away in 2004. Since he was unable to walk or run, they decided to help others “Move into Life,” as their organization’s tagline states.

“On Dec. 7, 2007, the ‘Runnin’ for Rhett’ non-profit was founded. The organization has now inspired thousands of youth and adults in the Sacramento area,” the website states. “In Rhett’s short life, he inspired many people with his infectious smile and will to live, but with his challenges, he could not walk, run or jump – no matter how hard he tried. After Rhett’s death, Beth and Randy dedicated their memory of Rhett to utilizing fitness and moving to help others do what Rhett wanted to do so badly but couldn’t.”

Lisa O’Shea, program director for Runnin’ for Rhett, said they train teachers and parents to act as coaches for the kids.

“Since 2010, we’ve been going to schools in Sacramento County focusing on lower-income schools where programs have been cut. It’s all free. We provide training and the kids go through a run,” she said. “They get a t-shirt and medals.”

Learn more at https://www.runninforrhett.org/

Foster Hope Sacramento helps place foster youth in need of a home.

“We have between 60 and 100 youth at any given time,” said Sara Green, with the organization. “Our Promise is crucial. We rely on funds from events like this.”

She said they provide computers to kids going into high school and when they are old enough, offer independent living programs to help them when they emancipate.

Learn more at https://fosterhopesac.org/

Elk Grove Regional Scholarship Foundation helps graduating high school seniors pay for college. Since 1987, the organization has awarded more than $2 million in scholarships to local students.

Brian Wiese, board member for the foundation, said helping students achieve their educational goals is important.

“Last year, we gave away 170 scholarships,” he said. “The idea is to educate the future. The more educated you are, the less likely you are to be incarcerated.”

Learn more at http://www.elkgroversf.org/

Sacramento LGBT Community Center offers health and wellness programs, legal clinics, links to resources and adult drop-in respite.

Beth Rassette, a volunteer with the organization, said Our Promise helps fund their many services.

“It helps keep us open so we are able to provide these workshops and support groups,” she said. “We also have homeless respite centers and that’s all possible through donations.”

Learn more at http://saccenter.org/