Cooking Matters Class at Hawkins Unit
The Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance’s Cooking Matters team partnered with the Arkansas Department of Correction’s (ADC) Wrightsville Hawkins Center to pilot a program introducing nutrition education to the female inmates housed there who would be completing their sentences soon. The initial six-week pilot course graduated twelve -women from the Cooking Matters class, held as part of the prison’s Think Legacy re-entry pro-gram. Think Legacy is an evidenced-based program developed by the ADC designed to increase the potential for successful reintegration of participating inmates into the community.
"White River Current" feature Think Legacy Graduation
Incarcerated Veteran's Resource Fair held at the Barbara Ester Unit
On November 17, 2017, the Barbara Ester Unit held an Incarcerated Veteran's Resource Fair for inmate veterans. The Craighead County Veteran's Monument Foundation donated $1,000 which will be used for the coverage and awning of the Veteran's Exercise Yard. The Department of Child Support Enforcement, Delta EEOC, Arkansas Workforce, Disabled Veteran's Outreach, Veteran's Outreach were among some of our vendors. Director Wendy Kelley, Research and Planning Administrator Tiffanye Compton, Think Legacy/Reentry Coordinator Nicole Smart were some of our staff members in attendance who spoke to the veterans. All 75 of inmate veterans present were thanked for their service. The event was catered by the Whole Hogg Cafe from Little Rock, Arkansas.
EARU Inmate Council Veteran's Day Program
On November 15, 2017, the East Arkansas Regional Unit Inmate Council sponsored its first Veterans Day event. The event was held in the Unit Chapel, sixty-one (61) veteran inmates present. The program consisted of guest speaker Andre Jones, Veteran Outreach Specialist of Pine Bluff, EARU Chaplain Arlen Parham and Deputy Warden James Dycus. Veteran inmates were treated to a meal of fried chicken, mash potatoes with gravy, green beans, rolls and cookies. The inmates were also shown a movie during the meal. This was the Inmate Councils first attempt sponsoring a Veteran's Day event and it was a great success.
McPherson Unit Resource and Reunification Fair
The McPherson Unit held a Resource and Reunification Fair on Monday, October 30th. Various speakers included Warden Toni Bradley, ACC Reentry Assistant Director, Carrie Williams, Ms. Kim and Tracy from Hope Rises, and many others.Think Legacy Reentry Mentor D. Hill presented a very motivational speech to the participants. Nisha from Protech Good Grid, spoke about knowledge on the utilization of software that assists with “felon-friendly” employers and more.Think Legacy participants received vital resources and knowledge of the different entities available that could provide services once released.
Burlsworth Foundation speak to Think Legacy participants
Marty Burlsworth and Rick Watts from the Burlsworth Foundation spoke to Think Legacy participants on September 24th. Marty is the brother of the late Brandon Burlsworth formerly of the Arkansas Razorbacks Football team (66th walk on), and Indiana Colts draft pick. Brandon had to work and train extra hard to walk onto the Razorback’s football team. Through Brandon’s dedication, he received a scholarship to the University of Arkansas after one year. After many tribulations, Brandon was drafted by the Indiana Colts. Brandon was traveling back to Harrison, Arkansas to take his mother to church when he was tragically killed In a car accident. Brandon’s spirit lives on through the Burlsworth Foundation. The Foundation provides under privileged children vision care and glasses. The movie “Greater” is based on Brandon’s life, with his family incorporated, they were his biggest fan. Marty Burlsworth and Vickie Burlsworth (Marty’s wife) donated 30 “Greater” movies, and 60 hard back books, “Through the eyes of a Champion” – The Brandon Burlsworth Story, to the Think Legacy population. The Think Legacy Participants have viewed the movie, and are now receiving visits from the Burlsworth’s and Rick Watts whom was Brandon’s youth pastor.
Wrightsville Resource and Reunification Fair
The Wrightsville Unit held a Resource and Reunification Job Fair on August 31, 2017. A plethora of motivational speakers included Principal Jason Williamson from Star City High School, Quintin Stephens and Misty Behr from Goodwill Industries, Marty Burlsworth from the Burlsworth Foundation, and Rachel Lindstrom from Good Grid. The purpose of the fair is to provide the tools inmates will need for a successful reentry back into the community upon release.
Think Legacy Program Graduation
A graduation ceremony was held for the 1st class of 2017’ Think Legacy program participants at the Ester Unit on July 27, 2017. Former State Representative, Efrem Elliot was the guest speaker for the event. A total of 14 inmates graduated the program.
Tucker Reentry for Women Resource and Reunification Fair
A Resource and Reunification Fair was held at the Tucker Re-Entry for Women's Center on Friday, June 19, 2017. The Arkansas Workforce Mobile Unit was parked outside the Tucker Re-Entry Center, the participants were able to get on the bus and complete resumes, and look for employment. The bus was equipped with 12 computers with built in internet. College of the Ouachita, Henderson University, and Shorter College were in attendance. Arkansas Legal Aid, Adult Education, Child Support Enforcement, TRIO, DHS, Phoenix Recovery, Hope Rises and many more were in attendance to provide resources and knowledge to the attendees. Guest speakers included ACI Administrator Rick Cooper, ACC Re-Entry Assistant Director, Carrie Williams, Jennifer Hawthorne from Restore Hope and a host of others.
Tucker Unit Resource and Reunification Fair
The Tucker Unit hosted a Think Legacy Resource and Reunification Job Fair on June 9, 2017, approximately 120 Reentry eligible inmates were in attendance. Guest Speakers included Patty Sims from ACC Good Grid, Chief Deputy Director K. Murphy from Arkansas Community Correction, Dr. “DUBS” Byers from the Board of Corrections, Richard “Rick” Cooper, ACI Administrator, and Quintin Stephens, Goodwill TEO Supervisor. The Arkansas Workforce Development Agency was in attendance with the Mobile Unit, offering 12 high speed internet, enabling the Think Legacy participants to search for employability and instruction on resume writing.
Veteran's Resource Fair held at Ester Unit
The Veterans Resource Fair was hosted by Deputy Warden John Wheeler at the Ester Unit on Thursday, April 13, 2017. Dr. Irving Kuo, and his team provided information for the unit’s veteran population. Ms. Linda Catalano attended and provided information from the Veteran's Administration. Ms. Catalano has agreed to partner with the Think Legacy Reentry Program, and provide information to the men and women assigned across the state, who have served in the armed services, as well as inmate veterans’ requesting the information.