(CARLISLE) – Each year offenders at the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility (WVCF) volunteer their time tending the garden that yields thousands of pounds of produce for donation to local communities. The volunteers are part of the Purposeful Living Unit Serve (PLUS) Program. The program is designed to change offenders’ mindset through either character-based, or religious-based classes and community service. Offenders gain a sense of pride for what they are able to accomplish through the fruits of their labor that helps people they don’t even know.
The garden project started in 2012 and has resulted in tens of thousands of pounds of fresh produce being donated to local food banks. This year will be no exception with 1,375 pounds of food already having been donated. The remaining growing season looks very promising with the number of squash, cucumbers and green beans growing. The two recipients of the 1,375 pounds were the St. Vincent DePaul Food Bank in Brazil, IN and Helping His Hands in Vincennes, IN.
“I’m very proud of how the offenders have step up to make the garden a success each year” said Acting Warden Littlejohn. “It’s also rewarding to see the sense of pride the men have in the garden and getting the results they know they made happen.” Littlejohn continued, “We want our offenders to know that hard work pays off and also brings an inner peace, especially when the effort benefits so many other people. I believe this is one part of their journey to a successful re-entry.”
Jacob McIntosh stated the following about working in the garden. “It’s a blessing to have the opportunity to get out in the garden and work to help provide our local communities with fresh produce, especially during this COVID-19 pandemic. Just being able to work and provide gives me the feeling of self worth.”
Richard Martin stated the following about his experience working in the garden the past five years. “I volunteer for the garden to be able to give back to society. With the COVID-19 going on and knowing people are struggling, I know the veggies we grow are donated to pantries to serve to people in need.”
Angus Toney stated the following about his experience with the garden. “If I may I would like to recognize the facility and it’s staff members for the opportunity to work in the garden. This moment is refreshing and satisfying, because in my heart I know I’m giving back to those in need, especially during this unprecedented time of division in our country and during this egregious pandemic.”