June 21, 2010
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Charles "Chuck" Chavers and Martha Chavers of Dothan, Alabama have logged thousands of miles of travel and donated hundreds of hours of their time in order to improve the lives of inmates at the Jackson Correctional Institution in Malone, Florida.
The Chavers, both very active retirees, travel 80 miles roundtrip, sometimes five or even six times a week, to volunteer their services at Jackson C.I.
Recently honored as Volunteers of the Year by Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Walter A. McNeil, the Chavers’ have for the last 30 months worked for the betterment of the 1,300 inmates at Jackson C.I.
“Your actions,” said McNeil in a quiet ceremony in Tallahassee on June 14, “communicate genuine hope to the men and women in prison and exemplify the best expression of ‘good neighbor’.”
Up through March 19 of this year when Jackson C.I. Assistant Warden Carolann Bracewell put their names forward for the honor, the couple had given 2080 hours of good works at the institution.
The Chavers’ were selected from many other worthy volunteers across the state who were described by McNeil as people who “display exceptional dedication and commitment and who provides a considerable benefit to the department through selfless work.”
Bracewell said in her recommendation that among other duties, Chuck Chavers fills in for the Senior Chaplain and that he and his wife Martha teach a weekly re-entry class on character development and personal development.
Bracewell reported that the couple also facilitates seminars and classes in anger resolution, and personal and spiritual conflict resolution. During the holiday season they coordinate with churches and other volunteers to buy toys for the children who visit their parent in the visiting park on Christmas weekend.
This year, Bracewell said, “Each child received a beautifully wrapped gift from their dads’. The inmates and their families were very touched by this kindness.”
In addition, Mr. Chavers, a graduate of the Florida Theological Seminary in nearby Graceville,
Florida, coordinates and participates in the Sunday morning worship service at the Jackson Work Camp. He was also responsible for the revitalization of a program to provide greeting cards for the inmates to send to their loved ones. He also facilitates the donation of sports equipment to the institution’s wellness program.
Mrs. Chavers, who taught school three years in Ocala and 27 years in Dothan, volunteers in the institution’s education department, supervising classes in the absence of the teacher, assisting in various classrooms and tutoring students working toward their educational goals. She intends to renew her Florida teaching credentials.
She also serve’s on the facility’s re-entry committee.
“They really model a productive functional husband-and-wife relationship before the inmates who have experienced so many dysfunctional experiences in life,” said Warden Bracewell.
“They positively impact the inmates each time they come individually or as a couple to the institution.”
DC Secretary Walter A. McNeil presenting Volunteers of the Year award to Martha and Charles “Chuck” Chavers in a ceremony at Central Office in Tallahassee (Photo by Doug Smith) DC Secretary Walter A McNeil, Martha and Charles Chavers, Assistant Warden Carolann Bracewell, Chaplain Ronald D. Evans and Region 1 Director Tim Cannon
Florida Secretary of Corrections Walter A McNeil present Volunteer of the Year award to Chuck and Martha Chavers (Photo by Doug Smith)