By Lt. Michael Betzinger, AA/PIO
with contributions by The Pioneer
Kern Valley State Prison

Kern Valley State Prison’s Facility ‘C’ recently held its fourth annual Peace Day fundraising event. The inmate population partnered with staff to raise nearly $2,000 for Honor Flight Kern County, an organization dedicated to sending our American veterans to Washington D.C. to see the monuments and memorials built in their honor.

During Peace Day, inmates came together in a spirit of good sportsmanship, unity, and charity. The event was hosted by the inmate operated Facility C newspaper, The Pioneer, the facility’s Inmate Advisory Council, and a group of 25 inmates in neon-yellow shirts who are heavily involved in the festivities. The Peace Day holds Olympic style events ranging from common competitive events like push-ups, pull-ups, basketball free-throw and 3-point competitions, to more unusual ones like wheelbarrow races, a Frisbee throw, and a “duck hunt” using handballs and cardboard duck targets. In addition, over a dozen pieces of art were created by participating inmates, all of which were donated to Honor Flight to be auctioned off at a later date to raise additional funds. At the end of the event, prizes provided by the institution were handed out to all the winners, and gift bags provided by Access Securepak were given to everyone who participated.

Vietnam veterans Albert Cabrera Jr. and George Garcia were the distinguished guests at the event. They were the recipients of the funds raised during the 2017 Peace Day event which sent them on their Honor Flight last year. Both made it a point to speak with as many participating inmates as possible, thanking them for their generous donations and giving them encouragement on their personal journeys. Other official visitors from Defy Ventures, Actor’s Gang Prison Project, and various administrative staff from within the institution visited the event and observed the activities. There was also live music provided by the facility’s ukulele group and resident guitar players.

Despite the heat and sun, everyone had a fun time and enjoyed the spirit of camaraderie that enlivened the festivities. With the music playing and a lively atmosphere, the men on the yard were temporarily transported from their everyday existence in prison to one that offers hope and possibility.