Centinela joins other agencies to shop with kids

By Lt. Michael Ramirez, AA/PIO
Centinela State Prison

Centinela State Prison (CEN) was among the many different local, county, state, and federal agencies in the Imperial Valley participating in the annual Shop with a Cop program. CEN Sergeants Gomez and Santana along with CEN Officers Bustos, Steinseifer, Espinoza and Herrera-Salazar each adopted a participating family. The kids were transported code-three via emergency response vehicle motorcade to the Target store located in El Centro. The kids each received a $100 dollar gift card to buy presents and staff helped the kids with their gift selections. Target included free gift wrapping and Santa Claus was on hand to take photos with each child. The kids were also treated to lunch that was provided by Southwest High School. This was a record breaking year for the Imperial Valley Shop with a Cop Program which included over 100 participating children.

PVSP staff deliver gifts throughout county

By Lt. Jose Benavides, AA/PIO
Pleasant Valley State Prison

The generous staff at Pleasant Valley State Prison (PVSP) staff were in the Christmas spirit of giving to others who are in need. For the past several years custody, free staff, mental health and medical staff alike have joined forces to donate hundreds of Christmas gifts to 20 families in Fresno County.

Many of the recipients were overcome with emotion when the gifts were delivered, and made statements such as, “They just raised the rent in my apartment and up until now I didn’t know if we were going to have a Christmas.”  Another recipient said, “I don’t know where to put all these gifts, I don’t have the money to buy a Christmas tree.” Another recipient saw Santa (R. Downey, Facility A Captain) and asked if we could wait while she went and picked up her kids so they could take a picture with him, since she did not have the money to pay for a professional Santa picture.

On Dec. 12, PVSP staff visited the West Side Elementary School and gave the children gift bags which were made possible through staff donations. The CRM’s Office coordinated with the San Joaquin Preschool in their annual visit from Santa and gave the preschool students gift bags.  The gifts were made possible through donations from PVSP employees and various private businesses and individuals.

Through funds received from an inmate photo sale, PVSP donated $408.50 towards the yearly Christmas feeding at the Poverello House, a private, nonprofit organization that has been serving the hungry, homeless and destitute of Fresno since 1973.

Pleasant Valley State Prison also received a last minute request to assist seven families and 14 children who are residing at Amanda’s House, a Hanford shelter for women and children fleeing domestic violence. PVSP accepted this request and turned to fellow employees for help. The gracious staff of PVSP donated gifts and money to ensure every child and family received a gift.

CCC gets into holiday spirit through giving

By Lt. Charlene Billings, AA/PIO
California Correctional Center

OFFENDERS SING FOR FELLOW INMATES – California Correctional Centers’ Level I, II and III inmates in the Arts and Corrections program performed in two Christmas concerts for all to enjoy. The Inmates worked diligently to prepare for the concert. They were instructed by Liudmila Mullin from Saint Petersburg State University and Saint Petersburg University of Art and Culture. This was a wonderful opportunity for the Inmates as Ms. Mullin is a professional opera singer, college professor, and teacher of vocal music. She taught the Inmates how to organize group singing, group singing techniques, and introduced them to reading music. The inmates were excited to perform in two separate Christmas Choir concerts and read personalized hand written poems aloud for their peers. On Dec. 18, five of CCC’s inmates housed on the level III yard performed in the Arts in Corrections inmate choir with seven local musicians. The concert was held in the Facility C Chapel and approximately 30 inmates and administrative staff attended. On Dec. 20, just five days before Christmas, 11 inmates housed on CCC’s level I and II yards performed in a Christmas Concert in the Main Chapel where approximately 100 inmates and administrative staff appreciated the performance.

CCC PARTNERS WITH OTHER AGENCIES FOR HOLIDAY WITH A HERO – Lassen County law enforcement agencies and the Lassen County community joined together to donate funds for less fortunate children to have a magical Christmas. CCC Inmates had raised $1,500 through a Christmas photo project, Warden Suzanne Peery donated the money to Holiday with a Hero on their behalf and sponsored 15 children. On Saturday, Dec. 15, CCC staff proudly participated in the Susanville event], one of the largest joint emergency agency events in Lassen County.In the early morning, 125 children stood outside of Walmart patiently awaiting Santa’s arrival with their parents, volunteers, and the Holiday Heroes. A parade of fire engines, police cruisers, and ambulances pulled into the parking lot with lights and sirens blaring. Shortly after the parade arrived to greet the children, the sun began to rise and a helicopter flew in with Santa Claus on board. As the helicopter landed and Santa Claus stepped out, the children surrounded him in excitement, screaming his name and reaching out to touch his big red coat. Warden S. Peery, CDW S. Cagle, CCC staff, High Desert State Prison (HDSP) Associate Wardens R. Peery, T. Lane and HDSP staff, Highway Patrol Officer J. Flores, and other law enforcement officers and first responders accompanied children one by one throughout the store to buy items on their wish lists and make memories. Lassen Family Services set up a station where they painted the faces of children and their heroes, others passed out donuts and apple cider, while Fairytale Princesses greeted children as they passed by.

CCC STAFF HELP SENIORS – As December approached, a Small Angel Tree was placed in the CCC foyer, decorated with simple hand-written Christmas Wish Lists from local Lassen senior citizens. As days passed, the tree was left bare, and gifts began to pile up with the lists attached. Chief Deputy Warden S. Cagle, Administrative Assistant C. Billings, Community Resources Manager S. Morgan, and Classification and Paroles Representative R. Williams arrived at the Senior Services Center with two vehicles full of presents. As the presents were brought inside and placed under the Christmas Tree, the seniors surrounded the tree patiently waiting to see what surprises were in store for them. A total of 25 senior citizens received Christmas gifts from CCC staff, ranging from blankets, clothing, pet food, and gift cards, to a carpet cleaner and more. Many of the senior citizens shook hands and hugged staff as their faces lit up after they received their gifts.

NKSP staff gives back to kids

By Lt. Jose Martinez, AA/PIO
North Kern State Prison

On Dec. 18, Santa Claus along with the staff of North Kern State Prison delivered Christmas early to the children of Community Action Partnership of Kern (CAPK) in Delano. The program director of CAPK was very thankful for the generosity of Warden Kelly Santoro and her staff. On Dec. 20, staff of NKSP, Kern Valley State Prison and Central Transportation Hub teamed together and delivered Christmas to Kern Avenue Elementary school in McFarland. The Principal was amazed in the gifts brought to the children stating many of the schools children do not have an opportunity to celebrate Christmas.  In all, gifts were distributed to more than 250 children. Wardens Santoro and Christian Pfeiffer were amazed with the giving spirit of the staff from their institutions. Warden Santoro stated staff from North Kern has always enjoyed giving back to the local community, especially its children.

CTF, SVSP help with annual Cops Giving Tree

By Lt. Roland Ramon, AA/PIO
Correctional Training Facility

Correctional Training Facility (CTF), and Salinas Valley State Prison (SVSP), in partnership with the Soledad Police Department and the Soledad Unified School District, provided a holiday meal and gifts for the children. A total of 87 families were served dinner and presented gifts during the event. The Ninth Annual Cops Giving Tree event for disadvantaged children and their families was held on December 14, 2018, where over 100 bikes and hundreds of presents were given to local under privileged children and families of Soledad and the surrounding community. City of Soledad Mayor Fred Ledesma recognized CTF and SVSP for their commitment and support with meaningful gifts for hundreds of children and their families during the holidays. CTF Warden (A) C. Koenig and SVSP Warden (A) T. Foss stated, “We want to thank our staff for their generosity and support in giving back to the community.”

MCSP delivers toys in syle

By Mule Creek State Prison staff

Each year, Mule Creek State Prison (MCSP) teams up with the Amador County Sheriff’s Department to make the holidays brighter for the less fortunate families in the local community. Over the years, MCSP employees and employee organizations have worked together to raise funds to purchase, gather and donate thousands of toys to families living in the county. This year was an exceptional year for the Toy Drive. This would not have been possible without the generous contributions and the hard work of all MCSP staff. On Saturday, Dec. 8, MCSP staff and families loaded the toys onto a decorated float. The MCSP Toy Drive float, MCSP Fire Engine and the Warden’s Classic 1965 Mustang convertible participated in the City of Ione’s Annual Holiday Parade. As the MCSP caravan proceeded down the parade, candy was tossed to the waiting children along the parade route. At the end of the parade, MCSP staff and families loaded the toys and bikes onto a waiting Amador County Sheriffs’ trailer for delivery to the Saint Sava Mission in Jackson. On Saturday, Dec. 22, MCSP and sheriff’s department staff teamed up at Saint Sava Mission to distribute thousands of toys to the less fortunate children of Amador County. “To see the end result of our staff’s contributions was truly remarkable and the looks on the faces of the receiving families were thanks enough,” said Lt. Angelo Gonzalez, MCSP’s Public Information Officer. “During the busy holiday season, it is great to have so many dedicated staff willing to take time out of their busy day and away from their families to give back to the local community.” Warden Joe Lizarraga echoed the sentiment. “The generosity and selflessness of our staff and the community is the true spirit of the holiday season,” the warden said.

CMC donates to less fortunate families

By Lt. Monica Ayon, AA/PIO
California Men’s Colony

For many, the holidays are a time of joy and great anticipation. For some, it is a time of sorrow and sadness. For those who are unable to give their children and loved ones gifts to celebrate the season, this time of year can be especially difficult. Staff at the California Men’s Colony (CMC) have made a tradition out of bringing a bit of joy and happiness to those less fortunate in our community. Warden Josie Gastelo has been a huge part of this tradition and constantly challenges the staff at CMC to do more than they’ve ever done before when it comes to giving. Here are a few highlights from CMC’s Season of Giving:

ALTRUSA FESTIVAL OF TREES – This year was CMC’s second year participating in the annual Altrusa Festival of Trees. This annual event is the biggest fundraiser for Altrusa of the Central Coast, a non-profit that provides grants for organizations and scholarships for local students every year. The Festival of Trees is an event where organizations, such as CMC, sponsor the decorating of a themed Christmas tree which will later be raffled off to raise funds. This year’s theme for CMC was “Out in the Yard.” Included with the duties of decorating our tree is the task of surrounding the tree with Christmas gifts related to our theme. The trees can be found on display in the Santa Maria Mall during the last few weeks of November. Visitors to the mall can purchase a chance to win a tree by leaving a $1 raffle ticket at the display or displays of their choice. The trees are then raffled away in early December along with all the ornaments and gifts that come with them. CMC took 2nd Place at this year’s event of more than 30 trees on display!

ANGEL TREE – Every year the staff at CMC participate in the local Angel Tree gift drive sponsored by the Salvation Army. In 2018, CMC staff helped make the Christmas wishes of over 150 children come true. Everything from bikes to Barbie dolls and clothes to computer games could be found filling up our gift depository area as staff continued in their tradition of giving back.

CHILDREN’S RESOURCE NETWORK OF THE CENTRAL COAST – The Children’s Resource Network is an organization that provides disadvantaged children and at-risk youth in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties with free clothing, blankets, books, backpacks, school supplies and other items to meet their educational and personal basic needs. Every year at Christmas time, the Children’s Resource Network holds two large events where they provide Christmas gifts, clothing and food to children in the community. Parents can select gifts for their children then walk over to the wrapping station where they can have the gift wrapped for free while their child visits with Santa Claus. The management team at CMC has made a tradition of assisting with this annual event year after year. From the Warden on down, they can be found helping give back to the children in our local area.


VSP’s charitable efforts benefit community

By Lt. David Barksdale, AA/PIO
Valley State Prison

Valley State Prison (VSP) staff participated in the institution’s third annual Adopt-A-Family Basket Decorating Contest. Local community based agencies such as Victim Services of Madera County, Friends of Fairmead and local schools in Madera County provided lists of 63 families in need of a happier holiday season. The lists were made into “tags” and they were placed in the front entry of VSP for staff to adopt. VSP staff put in a great deal of effort as well as their own money to create the most creative basket, of which volunteers from the local agencies helped determine the winners.

VSP currently offers over 130 Rehabilitative Achievement Credit (RAC) earning Inmate Activity Groups (IAG). IAG’s participate in various food sales throughout the year to raise money for local charities. This holiday season, local charities were able to purchase over 100 toys, 200 warm jackets, recreational equipment for a local school, backpacks, homeless hygiene kits and food baskets with money raised.

VSP has had a fully functioning Bicycle Refurbishing Program since August 2017 and to date, has donated over 250 bicycles back into the local community. This holiday season VSP donated over 140 bicycles to local schools and agencies.

VSP’s charitable efforts would not be nearly as successful without the generosity of VSP staff. We would like to thank everyone who has participated in the fundraising efforts of 2018 and can only hope 2019 will be all the more successful.

Crc Holiday 2018 Edited

Staff Services Analyst Dechanet Alexander, Lt. Kevin Anthony, Community Resources Manager Vickie Grays, and a Salvation Army volunteer surrounded by donated toys

CRC staff help families with Angel Tree

By CRC staff

Crc Holiday 2018 Inmate Paints Box 1 Edited

An inmate paints a donation box at CRC.

Warden Cynthia Y. Tampkins and staff from the California Rehabilitation Center (CRC) donated over 300 unwrapped toys to needy children through the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program.

The Angel Tree program is the cornerstone of the Salvation Army’s Christmas efforts. The Angel Tree Program provides new clothing and toys to children who otherwise might not have anything for Christmas.

For the past 13 years, CRC staff have generously donated clothing and toys to children residing in the Inland Empire through Angel Tree.

On Nov. 15, 2018, CRC began its official campaign by distributing “angels” to participating staff. These “angels” contained the child’s name, age, and the item the child desired to receive for Christmas.

Inmates from the Facility D Non-Designated Programming Facility assisted with the campaign by painting donation boxes that were placed at the employee entrance gates.

On Dec. 18, a Salvation Army volunteer came to CRC to personally collect the generous donations and thank the Warden and her staff for their efforts.

“CRC staff are committed to warming the hearts of children in need who live in the Inland Empire. This year, the inmates wanted to show their support by painting donation boxes. Next year, our goal is to put smiles on the faces of even more children,” said Warden Tampkins.

CIW offenders dig into pie to boost morale

By Paige Linville and Kinzie Noordman
Incarcerated at California Institution for Women

The California Institution for Women (CIW) has pioneered an array of innovative techniques to combat suicide within the inmate population. There is no idea too big or too small to be considered. A recent example is the Thanksgiving Cherry Pie Eating Contest. In prison, the holidays are a notoriously difficult time for offenders. Thanksgiving is normally a day to celebrate the blessings of family. Without this ability, the holiday is bleak. The pie eating contest was a fun and creative way to emphasize the presence of community rather than the absence of freedom. The idea for this contest came from Housing Capt. Joseph Spinney who collaborated with the Inmate Advisory Council (IAC) to make it happen. It is actually one of a series of eating contests which began with a July 4th hot dog eating contest. Capt. Spinney donated the cherry pies and whipped topping. “It’s nice to have an event that brings the inmate population out to the yard where inmates can rally behind their participant in a fun fashion,” said Capt. Spinney about the event. Each housing unit selected a representative pie eater. The winning contestants earned a three-layer chocolate cake for their entire unit. The novelty of the contest encouraged participation by offenders that are typically hesitant to become involved in community events. Once the contestants were selected, the preparation began. Some participants took their position as their unit’s pie eater very seriously. “I’ve been doing practice runs all week,” offender Kinzie Noordman stated, “timing myself eating everything from Top Ramen noodles to bread crusted apple pies.” The event was held on the day after Thanksgiving. The atmosphere was energetic and supportive as the sizable crowd anticipated the event. Competitors assumed their places at a long table with an enticing cherry pie smothered with whipped topping in front of each chair. The rules were simple: no hands were allowed, and the contestant who ate the most pie in the three minutes allotted would be declared winner. As the competition began, loud cheers for every contestant could be heard. The completion was intense, whipped topping flew everywhere; even one cherry pie went flying. However, a bit of gravel didn’t deter inmate M. Villalobos from continuing to pursue victory. The judges, Capt. Spinney and Food Manager Troy Kinsey, watched to ensure that competitors didn’t hide their pie or otherwise violate the rules. At the conclusion of the three minutes, the winners were declared: inmate T. Burris, Harrison B dorm, won first place and inmate J. Silva, Forestry dorm, claimed second as the messiest eater.