(Editor’s note: Photos automatically change every six seconds, unless you pause it by hovering the cursor over the photo.)

Story by Don Chaddock, Inside CDCR editor
Photos by Eric Owens, CDCR Staff Photographer
Office of Public and Employee Communications

The atrium at CDCR Headquarters in Sacramento was festooned with colorful balloons and table coverings while live music got people moving. The event was the kick-off effort of the Our Promise campaign to rally CDCR employees to reach this year’s charitable contributions goal of $550,000.

“What a festive event,” CDCR Secretary Scott Kernan told the crowd. “Our Promise is one of the state’s largest organized non-profit efforts to allow employees to give back. In 2015, CDCR employees donated $511,000 to local charities and I’m sure, thanks to the efforts of those involved and the generosity of our employees, we will reach our goal of $550,000.”

CalHR Director Richard Gillihan said the Our Promise campaign is special.

“What a great event and a great day,” he said of the festivities. “At CalHR, we participate in a few charitable causes each year, but this is different. It’s a chance for all our thousands of state employees to stand up as a collective whole and make a difference.”

United Way, a partner organization in the Our Promise effort, was also on hand.

Stephanie McLemore Bray, CEO and president of the United Way California Capital Region, said nonprofits rely on the generosity of others.

“It’s an honor for United Way to participate with the state as a partner,” she said. “We take very seriously the promise the state made in 1957 to give every state employee a chance to give to their favorite charities. … Thank you for being the philanthropists that you are.”

Organizing the kick-off event at Headquarters was no easy task, requiring coordination between multiple offices and divisions in CDCR.

“These events really help to get the word out about the good work that these agencies do in our communities.  It’s a great opportunity to learn about where your donation can go,” said Allie Powell, Department Chair for Our Promise.

According to Powell, 20 charitable organizations were at the event with information booths.

Holly Stewart, who serves on the department’s Our Promise executive committee, was pleased with the event.

“There was a great turnout,” she said. “The Island Sunset Band really helped to rally the energy and excitement around the event.  And incorporating a fun game like our bingo cards, and the carnival theme, increased employee engagement and also included the nonprofits in on the fun.”

David Zeux, a health program specialist with California Correctional Health Care Services, was busy helping out at the welcome table.

“I was here last year and this is a bigger turnout so we’re starting to raise the bar,” he said.

Shannon McPhedran, director of resource development for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Sacramento, said the Our Promise campaign is important for non-profit endeavors to continue serving their communities.

“Sacramento Boys and Girls Club has 10 locations with one of those in the Sacramento County Juvenile Hall,” she said. “Our Promise is very important. We charge our club members $20 per year and it costs over $1,600 per year for each child.”

Many of those in the club come from low-income families with parents struggling just to pay the basic bills, so the club relies on donations to make up the rest of the cost.

Stephanie Cope, a volunteer with the Aly and Izy Foundation, was busy answering questions about colorful infant clothing and blankets spread across her table.

The organization was founded in 2009 to provide comforting items for neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) babies. Some of the items include beanies, blankets and isolette covers. They also offer families help in another way, especially if the infant is undergoing extensive treatment in the NICU.

“We are all volunteer-based,” Cope said. “We have a recreational vehicle (RV) at Kaiser hospital in Roseville so families can stay there so they don’t have to drive home and make so many back-and-forth trips.”

Dubbed the RVs 4 Preemies Program, the RV is provided “to reduce financial hardships stowed upon families by extensive travel to/from the hospital (and) hotel/motel costs,” their brochure states. “(The RV) provides families a place to rest and relax during their stressful, emotional and physically draining time, allowing the families to be close to their premature or critically ill newborns 24 hours a day.”

Julie Smith, development director with the Center for Fathers and Families, helps families facing issues often involving child protective services (CPS) or the courts.

“We provide services to strengthen families,” she said. “We’re court and CPS approved. We provide anger management courses, co-parenting courses and drug testing. Sometimes they are referred to us by one of those agencies or they are self-referred, recognizing there is a problem.”

They also help children with their studies.

“We have an after-school program, called expanded learning, to enhance what’s being taught during the school day,” Smith said. “Our Promise is important not only for the money but for the awareness for what nonprofits do in the community.”

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

Learn more about Our Promise.

CDCR employees, find information on the Intranet.