Whenever someone finds themselves in a correctional facility they often do not have a resource that assists them in becoming better citizens. For the inmates at the Sampson Correctional Center, services are provided by the Community Resource Council (CRC) to help them be better family members and a responsible, law-abiding citizen.
The CRC is a volunteer group of church representatives that help provide assistance in stimulating positive citizen and community involvement and promoting volunteerism at correctional facilities across North Carolina. Chick Gancer is the current president of the CRC here in Sampson.
Gancer shared that the CRC began here in 1990.
“In addition to decorating the chapel that first year, we also donated books, clothing, shoes and food whenever the administration requested our help. We still do this today,” explained Gancer. “The community churches are our most important helper as they give money for our worthy projects such as the spring gospel sing and ice cream social for the inmates, employee appreciation meal and the annual Christmas dinner.”
The objectives of the CRC is to raise funds for these projects and others that will not be funded by the state. Gancer shared that the chapel was built at the Sampson Correctional Center 19 years ago from funds contributed by members of the community.
Over the past few years, the CRC has been very ambitious in taking on the project of refurbishing the chapel.
“After we appealed to our community for donations and funds from the CRC, carpet was donated, pews were cushioned and window dressings were put up. The chapel is a multi-denominational facility that is used by many of the 450 inmates incarcerated at the local facility.
Gancer stressed that it is important to remember that 98 percent of those who are incarcerated are released at some time. “It is our primary goal to affect a positive link between our community and the inmate population. There are many possibilities for service, from teaching skills to a group of inmates and spending time in prayer with an individual inmate to helping as a member of this council to raise money and plan projects. We encourage others to join us to help others,” remarked Gancer.
Milley Brewington is the newest member of the council and the only female.
“I feel like I am the little sister to this group and to the inmates we serve. I enjoy serving with my brothers in Christ,” Brewington asserted.
Other council member shared their thoughts and comments about the work they do as CRC volunteers, too, with all talking about the impact they hope to make.
The Rev. Louie Boykin stated that he had been on the council for five years and expressed his admiration for those who had previously served. He also said the love these members show to their fellow man are examples to follow. “God looks beyond the faults of the inmates and sees their need. I look forward to the joy and excitement shown by the inmates at these special projects and particularly at the Christmas dinner. Even though the inmates are in…God is not locked out, and he can and will reach out to them,” commented Boykin.
The Rev. Garland Mayes said it is simply rewarding to know that he can make a difference in the life of someone who has been incarcerated. “Jesus said, love thy neighbor as thy self. This is what we are attempting to do here with the inmates.”
“Anytime you can do something to help someone and you know they appreciate it, it makes you feel good. You can’t show to much appreciation. God chose me to do this work and has opened the door of opportunity for me to serve him in this ministry,” remarked Leroy King.
Willie Bennett expressed that being a council member was a worthwhile program and was rewarding as he worked with the inmates regardless of their individual circumstances. “I am overwhelmed with joy at the opportunity to serve my fellow man. To be a part of Christ and show the inmates and staff the love of Christ demonstrates and continues to show that in spite of ourselves, he is able to do great things through us.”
Several inmates shared their appreciation for the help show to them by the CRC. One inmate said that the CRC was made up of very special people. Another stated that the Christmas dinner was so very special because it was the only time when they got food other than what was provided by the center. “It is so nice to know that we have not been forgotten especially at this special time of the year,” expressed one inmate.
Gancer also shared that 300 New Testaments were given to the inmates by the Gideons during the Christmas dinner this year. Appreciation from the CRC was expressed to Donna Williamson, assistant superintendent in charge of prison program and to Tyrone Owens who coordinates CRC for all they do to assist the CRC is serving the inmates.
If anyone would like to assist or join the volunteers of the CRC they may contact any of the following volunteers: Chick Gancer, First United Methodist Church, 385-2306; Rev. Louis Boykin, Baldwin Branch Missionary Baptist Church, Elizabethtown 990-1892; Rev. Garland Mayes, Union Grove FW Baptist, 990-4928; Leroy King, Union Grove FW Baptist, 919-621-9006; Roscoe Howard, Mt. Pleasant Baptist, 990-3335; William Bennett, Mt. Pleasant Baptist, 305-5012; Rev. Gerald Underwood, Andrews Chapel Baptist, 990-9693; Milley Brewington, New Bethel Baptist, 337-4765; Rev. Joe Evans, Christ Missionary Baptist, 214-5986.