He was Incarcerated…now he’s a Volunteer Chaplain at the Sanders Estes Unit

David Ruiz is a volunteer chaplain at the Sanders Estes Unit in Venus, Texas. He loves being part of a family that is focused on helping incarcerated men turn their lives around.

“There’s all kinds of programs here to stimulate the minds of the men, to change the way they’re thinking.”

David volunteers at the facility at least four times a week. And while he focuses on spiritual matters, he says the Sanders Estes Unit has so many other programs to help these men prepare to succeed after they’re released.

“The re-entry programs here are incredible. And all the tools are here. And it’s up to the man to take what’s laying around for them.”

That’s exactly what David did when he was incarcerated at the Sanders Estes Unit several years ago.

“This is one of the prisons that I know just doesn’t look good on paper. But you can come in and see exactly what it is.”

He says volunteers made a big difference to him when he was in prison, and now it’s his turn to give back.

“Because of my experience being inside. I would see the volunteers come in. And I would see the ones who had a heart for it; had a passion for it. Those are the one who made a difference in my life.”

David says it’s been extremely fulfilling to help these men change their lives—especially considering that he walked in their shoes.

“Words can’t explain. That’s what keeps me coming back. Just to see a guy to be encouraged. When I speak to them, and I encourage them. I don’t talk down to them, but I try to pull out the greatness that’s inside. I believe that there’s greatness in every man in this place.”

About Sanders Estes Unit

Sanders Estes Unit is accredited by the American Correctional Association—achieving
over 99% compliance for both mandatory and non-mandatory standards in its most
recent audit. Other accreditations and certifications include the Correctional Education
Association and the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA).