By Richard H. Dyer | November 21, 2016 @ 9:38 am
APACHE JUNCTION, Ariz. - Arizona Department of Corrections inmates in a Central Arizona College program reupholstered children’s furniture that was donated last week to Community Alliance Against Family Abuse in Apache Junction. The nonprofit domestic and sexual violence service provider serves northern Pinal and far eastern Maricopa counties.
CAAFA provides a toll-free, 24-hour crisis line, empowerment sessions, legal advocacy, support groups, emergency shelter services, advocacy and community education and outreach. The website is http://www.caafaaz.org.
“It’s going to help out in two ways. First, some of the furniture is going into our children and family area over at our shelter, so it will be a nice play space for the children who are living there and who are having group sessions or individual sessions with a children and family specialist,” Dorian Townsend, CAAFA executive director, said after the furniture was delivered to the agency’s administrative offices, 185 N. Apache Trail Suite No. 1. “Then we’re going to use some of the extra for our holiday house, which we put on each year. It’s Dec. 19-22 and women who are either in-shelter or formerly in-shelter and are still trying to get on their feet are able to come to the holiday house that we are putting on where they can come and shop with their kids and get some nice things and enjoy the holiday season.”
It was good timing to get the upholstered items for the shelter, she said.
“Yeah, it’s perfect timing…. because Kim (Slater, children and family services specialist) is really getting some things going there, so it’s good timing for us to get some of the furniture in there. Particularly the pillows because we have Gabriel’s Angels come in there with a therapy dog and typically we want them on the ground but this way they’ll have pillows to sit on when the therapy dog comes through,” Ms. Townsend said.
Three Arizona DOC inmates from a local work crew unloaded the furniture Nov. 16 with the assistance of DOC Sgt. Otis Hanby and Rick Sinsabaugh, a probation officer for the city of Apache Junction.
CAC’s Florence Center provides skill training to inmates inside the Arizona state prison through a contract with the state DOC. The center, which has three buildings, also runs face-to-face and distance learning college credit classes for the community, according to https://centralaz.edu/locations/florence-center/.
“Central Arizona College actually has the class at the prison that does this. It was the upholstery class that made all of this,” Debbie Mendoza, correctional officer 4 for the Arizona DOC in Florence, said as the furniture was being unloaded.
DOC inmates raised their own funds to buy the material, she said.
“It’s part of our restorative justice – giving back to the community that you … offended or harmed when you committed your offense,” she said. “So they do fundraisers, (where) they purchase items – pizza or whatever we do – I believe we did pizza, pie and ice cream for this one.”
Fifteen inmates were involved in the upholstering of the furniture for CAAFA, Ms. Mendoza said.
“They made this over an eight months to a year period. This is the stuff that they made. So it’s all to teach them how to reupholster, but what they did was they framed-up little kid’s furniture and then did the upholstering on it to learn,” she said. “Sofas and easy chairs, there’s some ottomans, there’s pillows, beanbags and some stools. The stools are full-size; those are adult-size stools…. After they make it, we have to donate it to a charity,” she said.
“Hope Women Center got picnic tables and then all of these items were made in conjunction with CAC … So it’s like all of these fabulous community partners come together to give back to our shelters. And this is the result, which is just amazing,” Nancy Larsen, who works in victim services for the Pinal County Attorney’s Office, said at CAAFA.