In 2008 I began traveling weekly to the Allendale Correctional Institute in Fairfax, SC as an extension of my ministry, Hope Prison Addiction Ministry. Last year Warden John Pate and I discussed an addition to the addiction recovery program of a program of learning and transitional skills for present and future released inmates. One was already established in another prison that could be used as a model. The program is voluntary and requires agreement of the inmate to a code of conduct which is supervised by an inmate peer group. The group is housed separately and develops its own list of subject matter. The group is called the Character Housing Unit (CHU) and began in November 2011 and has some 300 inmate volunteers with the idea to expand.
The major need (as usual) is volunteers to teach and instruct a multitude of subjects as defined by the inmates in the CHU, the Warden, and individuals who may have a skill they could and would share. The result has been exciting. In addition to volunteers from other church’s or groups, the largest response came from ST. Luke’s with 12 individuals (including two couples) volunteering their services weekly, monthly, or quarterly. Subject matter includes parenting, relationship building, one on one counseling, spiritual and Bible awareness, reading, gardening, art instruction, resume writing, job interviewing, and most recently Bee Keeping. One inmate is now writing a Play about prison life and is being assisted by our own Pat Burckhardt. The subject matter keeps expanding with the minds of both volunteers and inmates open to all possibilities.
Warden Pate recently sent a letter to all the volunteers. I would like to share with you in part some of the activities and service which some of your brothers and sisters at St; Luke’s are offering.
“With the help of Lee and Tom Connor(organizational skills) we will be able to expand the CHU program in the next few months”… I want to thank Bob Smith (building relationships) for spearheading the purchase of art supplies and a BIG THANK YOU to the St. Luke’s Church Mouse for helping financially. Art Lessons are being offered. Rob Cushman and Ron Weisburg are making great headway with the Bee Keeping program…Rob is in communication with Mike Hood at Clemson to (seek) materials and assistance and … is in communication with Lee Lambert of Great Foods Co-Op… who knows everything about marketing home grown products. Kent James has incorporated installation of patio pavers into his program.”…”The garden continues to produce for the Cafeteria and we have just planted another crop of tomatoes and cucumbers … will soon plant winter crops of Collars and Cabbage. Molly (Whitelsey), Sharon (Nelson), Meredith (Kronz) and Pat (Burkhardt) continue to be loyal to their programs. “Mike Znachko is back … and conducted three programs (addiction recovery) last week”.
In addition to those listed above, Susie and Norm Galloway just completed 5 months of “Parenting Skills” instruction and Tom Hendrickson offers a quarterly “Spirituality” conference.
This may give you an example of members of our congregation who are “reaching out” with the gifts God has given them. If you have such a desire to serve, the “what” and the “when” are your choice. If any questions I offer any of the above as a reference and know they would be glad to discuss and share. You may also contact Mike Znachko at 843-290-6373 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. BMOC will have Warden John Pate has its guest speaker on September 24th who will speak further about this program as well as prison life at the Allendale Corrections. All men are invited and guests welcomed.