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

Non-profit organizations were on hand to share their missions during the recent California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Our Promise kick-off event at headquarters in Sacramento.

“Our Promise began back in 1957 as a way for employees to give back in an easy way, through payroll deduction,” said CDCR Secretary Jeff Beard. “Last year, contributions reached $6.4 million of which CDCR employees donated about 9 percent.”

He said he believes CDCR employees will contribute even more this year.

“Thank you for your spirit of generosity,” he said.

Richard Gillihan, Director of the California Department of Human Resources, said it was heartwarming to see the turnout for the event.

“It’s important we state employees think about giving back,” he told the gathering. “This is our chance to shine to make a difference in our community.”

Andrew Sheehy, Executive Vice President of United Way, said ensuring children are taught to read is important to giving them a chance to succeed.

“If you do not read at grade level by third grade, chances are you will not graduate on time,” he said. “We are the lead on the Campaign for Grade Level Reading, an organization focused on maximizing resources (for reading education).”

Eric Guerra, Sacramento City Councilmember, said he’s proud to also be a state worker.

“We care about our future and our youth,” he said. “Recently, I read a (newspaper) story about a survey of state employees. Overwhelmingly, state employees said they believe they are making a difference in the state of California.”

He said another way state workers can help is to donate through Our Promise.

“Every dollar you donate can make a difference,” he said.

For one non-profit organization, the event marked the first major step in becoming involved in the campaign.

“This is our first time being listed in the guide,” said Jamie Swain, Operations Manager for Crime Victims Coalition. “As an organization, 99 percent of donations go to law enforcement and people victimized as the result of crime.”

The organization was created in 2002 “in response to concerns regarding the growing number of assaults on peace officers,” according to their literature.

Swain said the organization is hoping to give CDCR a nudge with their donations.

“We’re going to donate $5,000 to any adult institution that donates the highest amount to Our Promise,” she said.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness booth proved popular at the kick-off.

Paul Edises, with the organization, said they offer help not only to those in need, but the family and support network as well.

“We have programs for who we call the consumer, the support person and the family,” he said. “We also partner with school and the police.”

Lori Borrelli, also with the organization, said the services they offer is important and donations help fund their efforts.

“All the classes we offer are free to the community,” she said. “We have fundraisers and walks to raise awareness. We want to fight the stigma.”

She said early intervention is important.

“Families become isolated and we want to tell them they are OK, they are not alone and we are here for them,” she said.

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

Learn more about Our Promise,