From April 18-24 2021, the Correctional Service of Canada celebrated National Volunteer Week. Throughout this week, the Commissioner and staff at both the national, regional and local levels expressed their gratitude and appreciation to volunteers and their efforts in helping offenders in their rehabilitation and reintegration. The celebratory event did not go unnoticed among offenders who, despite the changes the pandemic has brought, continue to foster nurturing relationships with volunteers.
In fact, one inmate at Matsqui Institution penned a heartfelt poem to them. This poem, along with dried poppy seeds were individually packaged and mailed to Matsqui volunteers as a token of gratitude and recognition for the many contributions they make to the offenders they support.
Entitled Community, the poem centres on the importance of the support of others and speaks volumes about the growth offenders’ experience when volunteers are present in their lives.
When a community comes together;
With a little hard work and good weather.
It is the only place I know;
Where we can eat the vegetables and watch the flowers grow.
Matsqui Institution, 2021
It took the collaboration of many staff members to coordinate this gift. Program Manager Sian Molinari, designed the beautiful envelope stamp (pictured above) and provided seeds from her own garden so each envelope contained poppy seeds that could be planted and enjoyed year after year. Staff supplied the decorative paper and envelopes for the seeds and printed, packaged and mailed all of them. And it was Social Program Officer Angie O’Leary who had the idea to include the inmate’s poem.
While this endeavour took the support and coordination of various groups including staff and inmates, the largest component was the time invested in stamping, printing and addressing all the envelopes. All involved agreed this was well worth the effort to make their volunteers feel special and appreciated, especially when this could not be done in person this year.
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