By Lt. Travis Wright, PIO | CCWF
Chowchilla Mayor Janan Hebert recently recognized 19 people – including two from California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation – for their volunteer work and the impact they have on the local community.
Velda Dobson-Davis, Chief Deputy Warden at Valley State Prison for Women, was recognized for the energy that she brings to her staff and the volunteer work that results from it.
Dobson-Davis organized an Adopt-a-School program that helps area elementary schools with supplies. Part of the program is sponsoring a Back to School Night barbecue.  Volunteers from the prison cook meals for the event at no cost to the schools.  The barbecue helps with turnout for the event, which partners parents, teachers and students.
Dobson-Davis is also heavily involved with her church, providing Bible-based workshops for women and couples and other helping with other volunteer programs.
“The ability to serve as a volunteer in the community is a two-sided coin,” she said. “It is my opportunity to give back, but also a constant reminder of all who helped me along the way.”
Robert Blankinship, Fire Chief at the Central California Women’s Facility, was recognized for the organization he brings to a group of inmate firefighters who provide fire protection for a 200-square-mile area of Madera County.
His is the only full-time staffed firehouse in the county. The fire crew is a large part of the community, helping with fundraising for local volunteer fire departments, as well as drunk-driving diversion programs such as “Every Fifteen Minutes.”
Deborah Johnson, Warden (A) at Central California Women’s Facility, echoed Mayor Hebert’s praise of the volunteers.
“It’s refreshing to see two CDCR employees giving so much back to their communities, especially in these uncertain times,” she said. “They are great assets not only to the local citizens, but they are extremely important to CDCR as well, and we are very proud of them.”