City Leaders in Overton, Texas Talk About Relationship with the Billy Moore Correctional Center
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With very few resources, small towns struggle to keep on top of their community needs. In Overton, Texas, the city has found a reliable friend to help with such needs in the nearby Billy Moore Correctional Center.
“They’ve been more than generous in their time and effort and everything they’ve been providing to us,” states Overton City Manager, Charles Cunningham.
The facility put together a work crew, made up of incarcerated men, to assist the city with many projects they would otherwise be too shorthanded to undertake.
“I go out there once in a while and interact with the guys and they’re very happy to be out there,” continues Mr. Cunningham. “They very much look forward to coming out and working with us. They’re very productive, and I think when they do get reintegrated back into society, this will be something valuable that they can take with them.”
The community support doesn’t stop with the city work crews. A local women’s shelter likewise relies on the Billy Moore facility. This support directly involves staff volunteering to meet their needs. Kellie Davidson, with Son Shine Lighthouse, explains their service.
“They’ve always been a source to reach out to for The Lighthouse. I mean they see a need and they help. It’s comforting in knowing that the prison system, in that capacity, supports what we do here. What we’re trying to do is change lives here. And they participate in that.”
The facility’s support of the community is felt in yet another way. The local chamber of commerce sponsors several community events throughout the year, and provides student scholarships.
“When Warden Hudson realized that we give three scholarships each year, he said, ‘we can help with that’,” explains Jeannie Barber with the chamber. “[The warden also said] We can provide items that you can raffle, have a drawing for, however you want to do, have a silent auction, and help supplement those funds.”
The guys who participate in the arts and crafts room went to work. George Helms, who’s incarcerated at the facility, explains why.
“I want to be able to give back to the community to help people out whenever they can’t do it themselves. And it’s something that I can do from here.”
The creative efforts of the men in the facility led to projects beyond fundraising. For the last two holiday seasons, the facility has provided Christmas decorations for the town.
All of the community outreach efforts involving the incarcerated men at the facility are supported with enthusiasm. Warden Hudson explains the importance of that.
“One of the biggest things that we look at, we want offenders to realize how important it is to give back to the community. And so, they get a sense of self-fulfillment for doing just that. And I have quite a few people on the list, waiting to get into the program.”
Ms. Barber is impressed with such willingness. “I can’t say enough about their attitude. Not only towards the chamber, but just towards the community.” Ms. Davidson expresses her gratitude as well. “I just want to thank the prison. I want to thank them for their generosity; for their time; for their efforts; for their care and their concern. And for trying to make a change, too.”
Warden Hudson explains MTC’s slogan. “Believe it or not I care (BIONIC). That’s what it’s all about, caring about your neighbor, caring for your community.”
Isaac Matthews is also incarcerated at the facility. He adds his impression of MTC’s BIONIC attitude.
“The staff, the way the facility is run, it seems like they try and get you ready to go home, instead of trying to prepare you to stay here. They say ‘BIONIC’ or something like that, Believe It or Not I Care. And it’s actually a slogan that you can see in the officers, they’re actually trying to treat you more like a person, instead of just an inmate.”
“So that’s what it’s all about,” continues Warden Hudson, “getting those guys to participate in that, become a part of the community and not a drag on the community. That means everything.”
Ms. Barber again expresses her thanks. “Now it’s not just a prison. It’s a working community friendship that we have with them, and they’re a huge part of our community, and we’re so blessed to have them.”