The Community Resource Council (CRC) is a volunteer group of church representatives who minister to a subculture. We are missionaries in a strange land. We would rather serve than to be served. We are so thankful for the opportunity that God blessed us with to serve in 2016. We are 11 members strong which includes ministers and lay people of Sampson County.
The purpose of the CRC is to provide assistance in stimulating positive citizen and community involvement and promoting volunteerism at Sampson Correctional Institution.
Among the objectives of the CRC is raising of funds for those projects for the inmates and staff that will not be funded by the state. The council reaches out and appreciates the overflow of support from churches, schools and businesses with their willingness to assist us. The CRC is a non-profit agency that provides and depends on the support of community to continue its operations.
Previously, Chick Gancer held the office of the president for the CRC. He was also the person in charge of the Toastmasters group that meets every Monday evening at Sampson Correctional.
Toastmasters helps the men with their grammar and thinking, so when they are released they will be able to obtain gainful employment. This program helps inmates search for a better way of life — new life, new hope. Toastmasters helps to equip these men with tools to succeed when they are returned into society.
I invited representatives from Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Security in Fayetteville to talk with the Toastmasters and give them information that would help them obtain employment and the names of businesses that will hire people that have been incarcerated. The Rev. Leonard Henry was also invited to share his life story before, during after his time in the NFL.
Gancer invited Jackie Howard to be a part of Toastmasters and her husband Roscoe Howard attended with her. The Rev. Thomas Farrow, previous pastor at First Baptist Church, 900 College St., also spoke with the Toastmasters to motivate and encourage them. The men always appreciate anyone that will come in and encourage them to move forward in the right direction and to speak positive affirmations.
In August 2015, I was voted in as the CRC president, taking over for Gancer. I started in January 2016.
I joined the CRC six years ago to give back to community. I had been in a traumatic auto accident in 2001 and 28 trauma doctors at UNC Hospital had no hope for my survival. But for the grace of God, I am still here. The scripture states that when I was sick you visited me, when I was naked you clothed me, when I was in prison, you visited me. I have done all these things for the Glory of God. I needed to experience something different — very different.
CRC volunteers or anyone involved with prison ministry are very special people. Not everyone is designed to be a part of this great assignment. In Matthew 9:37, it states that the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. We find this so true as the CRC members have invited others to attend the meetings and become involved. I have enjoyed working with the CRC members as we begin every meeting with prayer and end by holding hands and closing in prayer. These have been some special brothers in Christ in my life. They are not only there for the inmates but we at times have been there for each other and lifted these needs in prayer. I have heard some of these brothers say to me, “If you ever need anything, just let me know.”
Being the only woman president the CRC has ever had at Sampson Correctional has been an honor to me. Bishop Garland Mayes many times has said to me, “Madam President, I respect the office that you hold and will work with you.” I truly appreciated that so much. I would always call each member the day before our meeting to gingerly remind them of our meeting on the next day.
The CRC meets in the administration building at Sampson Correctional every third Wednesday of each month at 3:30 p.m.
On June 14, 2016, the CRC served the staff of Sampson Correctional with a delicious meal. We enjoyed seeing the staff that we seldom get to see. We provide encouragement to staff members by offering encouragement as simple as a smile or hello.
During the absence of a superintendent for Sampson Correctional, Robert Van Gorder sent letters out to each CRC member thanking us for our donations, financial support, personal time and assistance in serving the meal to the staff. Van Gorder also mentioned in this letter that without the CRC, this much-needed appreciation and recognition for the staff would not have been possible. He also stated that he was certain that Sampson Correctional Institution is blessed with the best Community Resource Council in the state.
On July 30, the CRC sponsored a Gospel concert for the inmates featuring the Cummings Brothers and Bernetha of Bolton, N.C. God made it possible. The inmates shed many tears as they remembered times when they were in church with parents and grandparents. The Cummings Brothers shared many personal testimonies and sang Gospel songs that the men knew very well, and the inmates sang along as they gave praise to God. We had 65 in attendance. The Cummings Brothers are members of New Hope Baptist Church in Bolton and their pastor, the Rev. Don Carter, and his wife Loretha also attended this event.
Christmas can be a very difficult time for the men housed at Sampson Correctional. It’s a population that might easily be forgotten. God has entrusted the CRC to be His co-laborers, His stewards with this ministry. We have been given the charge to work with God fulfilling His divine objectives. In I Timothy 2: 3-4, it reads, this is God’s objective. As co-laborers, God expects us to hold up our end of the labor agreement, we must be “about our Father’s business”… we must be occupying until Jesus comes. Around the latter part of October, I began writing letters and sending e-mails to churches asking for donations. Some of the other members of the CRC will also ask their home church for a donation. We do have many churches in Clinton that give to help the CRC to purchase the chicken and cakes for the annual Christmas lunch for the inmates. The CRC depends on this support. Without community the CRC could not have this project.
The CRC provided their annual Christmas lunch for the inmates on Dec. 16, 2016. This year, 193 cakes were collected by the CRC. There were 500 fried chicken thighs and 500 fried chicken legs ordered from Piggly Wiggly to be served by the inmate kitchen staff. The CRC members served the men housed at Sampson Correctional cake in the prison cafeteria, and each man received three slices of the cakes of their choice.
During the Christmas lunch, the men housed at Sampson Correctional are gracious, polite and respectful. CRC members offered a “Merry Christmas” or “God bless you” to the inmates. The inmates would in return say, “Thank you all so much, God bless you for thinking of us.” It made all of the CRC feel so uplifted to know that they were so appreciative for our care and concern. The CRC members enjoy doing this for the men housed at Sampson Correctional and Bishop Garland Mayes mentioned that it was such a wonderful feeling to him. Leroy King said that is was just a great blessing for him to be able to do this. This year more than ever before, the men truly expressed their gratefulness to us. Bobby Butler stood at the door as the men exited from the lunch and represented the Gideons as he passed out small pocket Bibles. This is very important because in the back of the Bible there is a prayer of salvation. And as the seed is planted, we never know who may give their heart to the Lord from reading this prayer.
While doing time is hard on everyone involved, it’s always good to see community members give of themselves and their time to help our community. This year as the CRC served the inmates we could hear them say, “that German Chocolate cake reminds me of my grandmother’s cake.” And some were so thankful that they received pecan pie and this made them miss home even more. This is the only time of the year they receive food from the outside of the facility and a large portion of the cakes are homemade. Ann Price with Graves Memorial Presbyterian brought 25 cakes to Sampson Correctional on Dec. 15. A few of these cakes I wanted to take with me because I could just look at them and tell they were really moist. These cakes were made with love because on a couple of them was a note that had the ladies’ name and it read: “Made With Love.” The men love chocolate cakes, German chocolate, red velvet and pecan pies. The CRC shows the men what they are missing at home and home is where the memories are. Rehabilitation does not consist of helping people realize they have done something bad. It consists of helping them learn better ways of coping with their life, better decision-making, impulse control, anger management and interpersonal skills.
I have also has been involved with “Grace of God” ministry at Sampson Correctional. There was a choir at one time that helped the men to be involved with their worship service and music is the main part that leads to worship. I also play the piano in the chapel as the men lift their voices with praises to glorify God. These men, with all they have been through and go through, touches my life. I think quite often after a worship service, here they are behind the clang of the gates sliding open and closed, but they come to worship God with a smile and joy in their hearts. I have to sometimes check myself, because I am not perfect and I struggle at times also. We have to be encouragement for each other. To some of the men, this may be the most glorious place in the world — a place where freedom is a long-forgotten concept, but this is where they found Christ.
Our communities are willing to give sacrificially of their service for the betterment of all. The CRC are good Samaritans helping fallen men stand up. We are not coming in with a judgmental mindset. We are trying to show the love of Christ and make a difference in someone’s life. People do not always end up in prison because they are bad. They end up in prison because they did not grow up fully or well. They are wounded or neglected kids with grown-up bodies with grown-up toys (guns and drugs). They need good education and modeling. In giving these men a hand up, we are giving them a sense of pride that a handout could never achieve. Jesus is the greatest need of humanity. The more we can do for them while they are incarcerated to prepare them for release, the better off the community and society will be. We want these men to be contributors to society and be successful. They are people of this world who make mistakes. As volunteers we give more than just time. We give of ourselves to help guide the inmates toward stronger family ties and a clearer understanding of a law-abiding citizen.
Pray for the staff at Sampson Correctional Institution as they go through their many challenges. Pray for the prisoners and their families. Nothing is more important than prayer. Changed lifestyles will benefit society and the salvation of a soul is the greatest accomplishment.
Our Lord associated with sinners and tax collectors who were regarded as the worst type of people in the New Testament. We must do the same. A ginormous thank you to everyone that has given their support to the CRC in 2016 to help meet many needs. May God’s blessings continue to be upon you all.