Last updated: April 25. 2014 3:33PM - 943 Views
By Emily M. Hobbs Staff Writer



Emily M. Hobbs/Sampson IndependentEleanor Foley (front left) is all smiles as she receives the Volunteer of the Year Award at this year's banquet. Valris Jernigan (front right) is the case manager at SCI and she presented the award.
Emily M. Hobbs/Sampson IndependentEleanor Foley (front left) is all smiles as she receives the Volunteer of the Year Award at this year's banquet. Valris Jernigan (front right) is the case manager at SCI and she presented the award.
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Sampson Correctional Institution hosted its Volunteer Appreciation Banquet Thursday night with the goal of ‘celebrating extraordinary people who do extraordinary things’.


Volunteers from local churches are a needed component of the prison ministry, and they were recognized for all their labors at the prison, organizers said.


“Whatever you sow, you shall reap,” reminded Tyrone Owens, the programs supervisor at Sampson Correctional. “I thought about you volunteers, and how you are sowing into the lives of others.”


“The Father in heaven has a greater reward for what you have sowed,” Owens said after he read from the Bible.


“I want to make sure you all feel welcome,” said Donna Williamson, the assistant superintendent of programs. “Tonight is for you.”


The Sampson Correctional Institution’s choir blessed the group with a musical selection called “Run,” a song which about the change that has come out of living a life for Christ, and how it has impacted them.


One of the inmates, Chubasco Reaves, read a story about how each one was their brother’s keeper.


“And he cried, ‘Brother, brother, where are you?’” said Reaves. “‘I have fallen; I am in need.” The brother had fallen into a pit, and even though he had the tools to get himself out of the pit, he was still missing one thing he needed the most — the strength to get himself out.


“And he loaned his brother his strength,” Reaves read. Reaves continued, expressing his sincere thanks to the administration and staff for the volunteer banquet. He also thanked everyone there with sincere gratitude for all of their compassion and self sacrifice.


“A lot of us have no visitors,” divulged Reaves. “Some because of the sins that put us here. You share your love with us and inspire us all.” Dedication and drive were at the forefront of the banquet.


“We love each and every one of you,” Reaves added. He also mentioned that one person can make a difference in one more person, and that that change can impact many more beyond that first contact. The inmates also signed a card and gave it to First Baptist Church at 900 College St. in thanks for getting them a keyboard to use.


After Reaves spoke, two young ladies from Mt. Pisgah Harnett OFWB Church did an interpretive dance. Sisters Ialiyah and Vanessa Stacker danced to a song about breaking the chains of sin.


The speaker for the night’s program was Livis Freeman, who is a retired Superintendent of Programs. From Clinton, Freeman is a father and grandfather, was in the National Guard and Army, and also has mentored.


“It’s a joy to be here tonight,” said Freeman. “I thank God for being here.” Freeman spoke about temptation and also loving your neighbor. He also said thank you to the volunteers, which he described as the type the Bible speaks about who “go and do likewise”.


“God bless you for the compassion you’ve shown,” Freeman expressed, sharing his appreciation for them that have show God’s love in unconditional ways.


For those gathered he said it was about doing for the least.


“If you want to be great, be a servant,” he said. “We are all short of the glory of God.” Freeman closed by reading the poem called “The Touch of the Master’s Hand” about an old violin.


Emily M. Hobbs can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 122 or via email at ehobbs@civitasmedia.com.


 
 
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