The Michigan State University (MSU) Alternative Spartan Breaks partnered with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to plan an Alternative Spring Break (ASB). MSU ASB mission statement is: “Encourages the active citizenship of its students through quality service opportunities, education about social issues, and exposure to diverse cultures and communities.” Students are able to read a description of each trip and decide which one they are interested in before knowing the itinerary and destination of their trip.
Michigan State University ASB Students back row: Kaite,Troy, Nick, Maya, Allie, Emily front row: Amanda, Njeri, Lauren, Johnny
There were several ministries that partnered with TDCJ Volunteer Services. Those ministries were Hospitality House of Huntsville, Solomon’s House of Hope, Restorative Justice Ministries, and Rahab’s Retreat and Ranch. Ten Students decided to choose this trip that would give them the opportunity to experience the affects of social and criminal justice in Texas.
ASB students were able to witness first-hand the affects of victimization, family reunification, incarceration and restorative justice in a wide range of activities. The activities the students participated are listed below:
- Toured the Huntsville “Walls” Unit and shared in a peer-education class that prepared offenders for release
- Interacted with family members and witnessed the reconciliation of their loved ones upon release. Joined in a release prayer with Restorative Justice Ministries at the bus station
- Assisted Hospitality House (HH) with facility maintenance and spring cleaning
- Worked at Solomon’s House of Hope resale shop
Prepared a meal for the Trinity community in S.O.U.L. (Sharing Our Unconditional Love) Soup Kitchen
- Toured Estelle Unit High Security
- Worked at Rahab’s Ranch and Retreat resale shop
In summary, the MSU students were able to engage in some life changing activities during their spring break. They experienced the impact of crime on all aspects of life. Restorative justice was truly experienced in a hands-on environment. They assisted with all stakeholders of the Restorative Justice process. Anita Parrish of Solomon’s House of Hope stated, “The students worked hard without complaint. Not only was it a pleasure to interact with the students, the tasks completed were done beyond expectations. We would welcome the students back any time!” The TDCJ and other providers wish to thank the MSU students for serving our Texas community.
This is only one of many stories in which volunteers are making a positive impact. Volunteers, from my desk to yours, I thank you for making a difference!
Clint D. Morris, Volunteer Services Director
The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University reports that eighty-two percent of individuals incarcerated in the United States have substance abuse involvement with their offense. In the fall of 2016, Alcoholic Anonymous (AA) Correctional Facilities Chairs met with the Rehabilitation Programs Division (RPD)& Correctional Institutions Division (CID) staff in Huntsville to discuss the expansion of substance abuse programming throughout TDCJ. Since the meeting, there has been collaborated efforts to increase education and volunteer recruiting, where we have seen an increase of twelve percent in TDCJ substance abuse volunteers. TDCJ has a long history of working with the Alcoholic Anonymous community to expand services throughout TDCJ to meet this need for programming.
There are several fellowships that contribute to meeting the needs of individuals incarcerated such as Celebrate Recovery, Narcotics Anonymous, Secular Organization for Sobriety (SOS) and Winner’s Circle. We appreciate these fellowships partnering with our efforts to expand services in the area of substance abuse.
“Lost Dreams Awaken And New Possibilities Arise” was the title of the TBRCNA17 convention in League City. The Hospitals and Institutions Service Committee sponsored a workshop where a TDCJ offender spoke about the importance of carrying the message of Narcotics Anonymous inside the prisons. TDCJ approved volunteers spoke about their experiences and the love they have for volunteering inside TDCJ Units. Tejas Bluebonnet Region of Narcotics Anonymous, we appreciate the dedication and support you provide to those incarcerated.
BSSM ministry team visits Estelle High Security
The Students from BSSM minister to offenders at Estelle, Goree, Holliday, Hughes, Marlin and Wynne Units. BSSM students travel to Texas to do mission work at TDCJ facilities three to four times a year. They serve on TDCJ’s mission field revealing God’s love, truth, and power as they minister. BSSM mission teams have ministered on eight facilities since 2013.
BSSM is a
vocational ministry school in Redding, California. Their curriculum centers on students
embracing their royal identity and learning kingdom values. The mission of BSSM is to develop individuals
in to revivalist. They emphasize hands-on
training and experience along with academic understanding. This creates a
“teach and do” culture where students take risks to stretch their faith and
grow in their understanding of God.
To read more about BSSM.
Kris Vallotton, Kathy Vallotton, Bethany Roper, Judy Owens, Charlie Owens and Warden Carter
Recently, Kris and Kathy Vallotton – BSSM Senior Administrators visit the Estelle Unit. Kris is a noted prophetic voice worldwide and has served on Bill Johnson’s apostolic team for decades. Kris is a sought-after speaker around the world and has written numerous bestselling books. Kathy is an anointed worship leader and assists with the training of the worship teams.
To read more about the Kris and Kathy Vallotton.
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) would like to partner with you as a volunteer. If you would like more information about a specific program please feel free to click on any of the following areas of interest for more information:
• Reentry and Integration
• Rehabilitation Programs
• Victim Services
• Windham School District
To learn more about becoming a TDCJ volunteer visit the TDCJ website and click on the Unit Directory to identify a facility near you. If you would like to discuss the specific volunteer needs for the facility, please feel free to contact the Unit Administration or the Chaplain. You can also visit the Volunteer Services webpage by clicking on Volunteer with the TDCJ. You are encouraged to complete a Volunteer Application and take the application to a Volunteer Training/Orientation site near you. You may search the Volunteer Training/Orientation schedule by date or by city.