TDCJ Volunteer Services Newsletter January 2015

Texas Department of Criminal Justice Volunteer Services

Volunteer Services Newsletter January 2015

pay it forward
"Remember there is no such thing as a small act of kindness, every act creates a ripple with no logical end." - S. Adams

This month's newsletter is to celebrate and show our appreciation to ex-offender TDCJ VOLUNTEERS, many of whom, were positively impacted by a volunteer or staff member during their incarceration, such that they have dedicated their life's purpose to "Paying It Forward".

Danny D. Pena


Danny D. Pena is an active volunteer at the Stevenson Unit.  He facilitates two weekly classes for the unit's faith-based dorm.

"I was an alcoholic for 30 years and shot dope for 15.  My addiction finally led me to prison.  For years, I was in and out of prison and jail, and I knew there was a real threat I would be sentenced to Life as a career criminal if I didn't make a change.  On March 28, 1989, I turned my life to Jesus and have been walking with God ever since then", said Mr. Pena.

"Today I work at Faith Family Church in Victoria, Texas as the Facility Director, ministering to men with addition who are serving time in prison and through the church's Celebrate Recovery Program.  I get the chance to be an example to the offenders on how God can change lives.  It's an honor and privilege to be able to serve the offenders every week and to watch how God continues to change lives."

Lori Newton Riggs


Lori Riggs served five years at the Hobby Unit for a drug charge.  Since her release she has received a degree in Addiction Counseling and is currently an intern at La Hacienda in Kerrville, Texas.  Ms. Riggs continues to give back while serving as a volunteer in both the Chaplaincy and Substance Abuse areas of interest.

Ms. Riggs attributes her life's change to the volunteers with Discipleship Unlimited Ministry and a TDCJ staff member named Jennifer Roberts.  Lori states, "Mrs. Roberts worked at the Hobby Print Shop and her signature quote to the offenders who were assigned to work there was 'Keep your eyes on the prize'.  My family is restored, I have a rewarding career and I am content in my life and thanks to the influence of Mrs. Roberts...I will continue to keep my eyes on the prize."

Felicia R.


Hi, my name is Felicia R. and I'm an addict!  More true words have never been spoken and I say these words with a clearer understanding of their definition, with the grace of G-D and hard taught lessons of rehabilitation.  I am a long time recidivist that received a new lease on life at the Henley Unit In-Person Therapeutic Community Program.

Today...this is who I have become! I have almost 6 years clean and sober.  I began college in prison and I will complete in May 2015.  I will graduate, on the Dean's List, with a 3.8 GPA, from Business Management.  I have a great job, as an Operations Manager at an Energy Brokerage Firm.  I have shared custody of my 10 year old daughter, with the ability to raise her and teach her what life without addiction is.  I pay my taxes, I share my story, I live my life, all, with a new way of thinking!  It is so important that Volunteers continue to share their story inside of the are responsible for people like me, who had all but given up a life with any normalcy, from lack of knowing there is a life like that...available!  Please know that WE DO MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

Susan Neyra


Susan Neyra was once an offender whose job assignment was to tend to the needs the unit chapel.  She credits her transformation to numerous volunteers and the former Unit Chaplain, Wallace Nelson.  It was while working in the chapel that she came to know who she was in Christ and the realization that she too could have victory over strongholds and past hurts. 

By God's grace, Ms. Neyra was transformed into a humble servant.  Seeking to proclaim God's love and forgiveness to those she left behind.  In 2005, Susan founded Disciples 4 Christ Outreach Ministry (D4C).  Each year D4C ministry schedules a series of crusades, they facilitate faith-based dorm classes, they sponsor family events such as A Day with Dad and Moments with Mom as well as distributes annual hygiene Blessing Bags to thousands of offenders.

D. Martin Evans


D. Martin Evans has been out of prison for five years.  Since that time he has founded Mpact Ministries.  The ministry focuses on building relationships with men and women while they are still incarcerated.  Seeking individuals that are ready to start living their lives for God.  To get to know them and identify their strengths, weaknesses and where the break down is in their lives and relationships.  To be a source of friendship and trust for them through prison, re-entry into society and to their new life of freedom in Christ.

"Mpact Ministries has touched the lives of so many of our offenders... We truly appreciate your commitment, dedication and effort. Your ministry is a positive influence to our offenders and we are so blessed to have you at the San Saba Unit. Thank you!" - Chaplain Taylor