COTTONWOOD – “Volunteer work is such a selfless act of kindness and can benefit so many, yet it can be easily discarded with our everyday hustle and bustle,” said Sergeant Lacey Graham, North Idaho Correctional Institution.
With the surrounding communities near Cottonwood, there are ample examples of people coming together and volunteering their time and services for good deeds and fund-raisers. Graham said NICI strives to provide the opportunity for the inmate population to give back to the local communities.
“Paying forward by doing community services is a way to pay back for many of the inmates and helps with their rehabilitation process,” she explained.
NICI re-established and made work crews a primary focus in 2003 when Lynn Guyer became the warden of the facility. A screening process is in place to ensure only our low risk non-violent offenders are selected to assist within the communities, Graham said, and security staff escorts all work crews outside of the Cottonwood area and have been recognized for their assistance with the task at hand.
“The inmate population takes great pride in knowing this is a trusted privilege, so they hold each other to a high standard and aim to please,” Graham added.
Recently, Lieutenant Brian Crowl supervised a work crew to assist Mayor McClure of Riggins with the clean-up after their annual jet boat races and rodeo.
Graham said when interviewing the inmates once they returned to the facility, they all expressed gratitude for being given the opportunity to “do something nice for such pleasant and appreciative people.”
“They expressed that it makes them feel good because they feel as if they are a positive part of the community when they are out there,” she said. “They also agreed that it feels so good to pay it forward they plan to do volunteer work for their communities when they return home.”
NICI work crews are able to assist with nonprofit, volunteer or governmental events and tasks. All inquiries for use of NICI work crews could be answered by Graham, Monday through Wednesday, at 962-3276 ext. 170.