Terrebonne prison inmates made a donation to help children get school supplies
Fourteen inmates from the Terrebonne Parish Jail donated their own money to purchase school supplies for four elementary schools.
The amounts ranged from $20 to $500. Uninvited, inmates donated nearly $1,200 combined, Sheriff Tim Soignet said.
“I am extremely proud of every inmate who developed and participated in this incredible adventure,” Soignet said. “Our offenders in the program have made great strides not only in their jobs, but also in their personal growth. I understand that the TWP doesn’t work for everyone, but it’s a wonderful example of what can be accomplished when we work together to make our community a better place for everyone. These men decided on their own to give back and make a difference, and I believe they should be commended for their actions.
Donors were allowed to pack the supplies on August 20, and Soignet hosted a barbecue for them in honor of their generosity. Work Release Program Principal Rusty Hornsby and Vice-Principal Jacob Fonseca delivered the supplies to principals at Upper Little Caillou, Legion Park, Montegut and Acadian Elementary Schools.
“I was just laying in bed on a Saturday about three or four weeks ago, and I was talking with God, you know, asking ‘What can I do to help someone?’ “, says Everette Arcement, who launched the campaign by writing a letter to Soignet. “Immediately, he said that Terrebonne had taken a big hit with Ida and said that many children here did not have much. “
Arcement, 52, from Thibodaux, has been ordained minister for 28 years and works as a cook in the offshore oil industry. He pledged $350 and enlisted a prison devotee named Troy Hunt to deliver the letter to others.
Arcement, like the other inmates, cannot move freely around the prison. Hunt cleans up the facility, so he has more access. Hunt said he thought it was the right thing to do because he had children of his own and thought it was a good cause.
“He brought it to my attention; we just ran with it,” said Hunt, who is not part of the work release program and did not donate but helped circulate the letter. . “I spoke with the captain. I said, ‘Can we get this approved? And they approved it.”
Roger Thibodeaux, 34, of Labadieville, works as a line cook at a chain of restaurants in Houma and donated $150.
Thibodeaux said he has been a practicing Muslim for six years now and prison has given him time to reflect on life. He said money can become a distraction and God wants people to give back.
“I’m just trying to have a little impact,” Thibodeaux said. “I don’t know about anyone else, but I can speak for myself. I helped destroy the community, so sometimes you have to reverse your Karma and try to fix what you messed up.”
Ron Lewis, 27, donated $500. He earns about $600 a week working in a machine shop, but that’s before the prison takes its cut and taxes.
These men decided on their own to give back and make a difference, and I believe they should be commended for their actions.
Terrebonne Parish Sheriff Tim Soignet
When asked if $600 equaled about two and a half weeks net pay, without flinching, Lewis shrugged and replied “yes.”
“My family, we didn’t have much, so we were depending on, like, people to donate so we could go back to school. So I thought about it and said ‘man, that’s pretty cool,'” he said. . “It’s something, you know, I’d be happy to spend my money on because…we have to make sure they have the things they need to learn.”
Before he was jailed, he worked on a garbage truck and sold drugs, the latter of which sidelined him, Lewis said. He loves his new job and he has two months left before his release. He said he and other inmates plan to donate more, so he plans to keep in touch with them once he is out to continue fundraising.
Heath Cutts, 32, is from Leesville and did some sandblasting through his work release program but is looking to go overseas. He donated $20 for school supplies.
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Cutts has been in prison for about three years and was recently transferred to Terrebonne. After his mother died, he said, he started using drugs, which landed him in trouble with the law.
Cutts said he was working out at the gym when Arcement approached him about the fundraiser.
“I asked him where the pen was,” Cutts said. “Right now, I mean, I don’t know if my son is going without because I’m here. … So I didn’t want another kid to feel that way”
It was all done by the inmates, he said, and they only involved the superiors once the money was promised. Cutt said he hopes it shows people that just because they all made bad decisions to end up where they are doesn’t mean they’re not bad people.
Other inmates who donated, according to the sheriff, are Michael Dover, Steve Callais, Andrew Scott, Aaron Charrier, Joshua Johnson, Bobby Nelton, Nicholas Gilmore, Lawrence Toliver, Derek Thompson and Rubin Marshall Jr.