By Joe Orlando, CDCR Public Information Officer
Office of Public and Employee Communication
Dozens of volunteers from in and around Stockton came together recently to help distribute food during the Thanksgiving Food Box Giveaway at the Stockton Food Bank. Among those volunteers were youth offenders from N.A. Chaderjian and O.H. Close Youth Correctional Facilities.
O.H. Close Parole Agent Michael Houston often travels with the youth offenders when they help out in local communities. He said a lot of the young men want to take part, but few are chosen.
“They have to go through a process to get here. They have to go before a facility board, receive a work clearance, show positive behavior, and be signed off by the treatment team,” Houston said.
Each youth offender is assigned a treatment team when they arrive at one of the four Division of Juvenile Justice facilities. The team consists of a youth correctional counselor, parole agent and various medical and health care experts.
According to his treatment team, youth offender Jordan has been programming and rehabilitating well.
“I’ve been to 11 community events, and it’s helped me more than I can say to become a positive product of my society,” he said.
The Stockton Food Bank serves 300 to 500 people every day and things really get busy during the holiday season. Three days before Thanksgiving, within a four-hour period, they’ll serve more than 3,000. They’ll serve that same amount close to Christmas.
Tim Ulmer has been a volunteer member of the Stockton Food Bank Board for 12 years.
“The need is always there. The numbers go up and down from year to year, but there are always people who need our help,” Ulmer said. “All we ask is that they provide a photo ID.”
Everyone rolled up their sleeves as the line snaked through two city blocks.
Katie Henne, a Parole Agent and head of Victim Services at N.A. Chaderjian and O.H. Close, has coordinated the excursions for the youth to be active in the community for years.
“A lot of these guys have never experienced actually helping another person, and I think it changes them as a person knowing they can do something positive,” Henne explained.
Youth offender Miguel said, “It’s a great opportunity to show we want to become different, and we want to give back to people, and let them know we want to help the community instead of harm it, so it’s just an honor to be here.”