Impact Georgia Magazine August - Page 10

NOBTS

•Accredited 4 year, bachelor level program

•Available to male and female offenders

•Established in 2006

•Located at Phillips State Prison and Whitworth Women’s Facility

•Graduates of program

are utilized to support facility chaplain

through religious services and mentoring of

offenders

• There have been 58 graduates from the

program so far and GDC looks to grow that

number into 2019

Ashland University

In FY19, GDC began a partnership with Ashland University (AU), a fully accredited brick and mortar university, to provide post- secondary education courses to offenders at Dooly State Prison (SP), Smith SP, and Whitworth Women’s Facility.

In the fall semester, approximately 50 offenders at each site, who were deemed eligible for the Federal Second Chance Pell Grant, began utilizing a learning management system on the JPAY GOAL device as their primary method for course participation. Due to the success of the initial program implementation, we expanded the program to Lee SP, Hancock SP, and Pulaksi SP beginning Spring Semester of January 2019.

VOLUNTEER Spotlight

We rise by lifting others

Photos Contributed

The Georgia Department of Corrections has hundreds of certified volunteers that provide services to offenders on a daily basis. Dianne Reynolds, is a certified GDC volunteer, who provides the ladies at Metro Transitional Center in Atlanta, Georgia an opportunity to “gain strength, flexibility and balance on the mat and in life,” as a Yoga Instructor.

In 2016, she learned about a ministry called Prisoners Hope, and was led to attend the training in order to volunteer “within the walls.” She considered it a calling, so she completed a 200 -hour Yoga Teacher Training Certification course, with the goal to teach women in prison.

Since completing her training, Dianne has been volunteering at the facility for almost two years and facilitates the class twice a week.

“This is a way I can teach and mentor women who are making a fresh start. I appreciate the women in my life who have taken my hand and helped me through tough times, and I desire to do that for others. This is my ministry and I am thankful to be given the opportunity to share my faith and life experiences,” she said when asked about her volunteer work.

During her sessions, the class will often talk about respecting themselves and responding to difficult situations or people, slowly as opposed to reacting in a negative way.

Dianne says that each class has a theme that is discussed throughout the time spent together, including things like love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness and self-control (Fruit of the Spirit).

“Incorporating exercise and mindfulness into any group of people will only benefit the whole organization. Some of the women who come regularly find themselves sleeping better, moving more freely, making better choices, breathing more mindfully, and developing a more peaceful life,” Dianne said.

If someone feels a leading and a calling to volunteer, they should pursue it, knowing that this is not for the faint of heart. The women and men who are incarcerated are in need of learning new skill sets.

Dianne says that she suggests prospective volunteers find their own personal areas of giftedness that they can share.

"Anyone with a desire to volunteer should look for opportunities, make arrangements with the facility, apply, attend the training program and GO! Serving in this way has given me a fresh perspective on the rehabilitation of prisoners and is such a rewarding experience."

Dianne Reynolds