Living Columns & Blogs

CentrePeace’s success is thanks to volunteers, including inmates

The mission of CentrePeace is simple. We collect and resell used merchandise, donated by local residents in order to generate program funding. Without our used furniture and household goods outlet, the programming we provide would simply cease to exist. This funding supports and sustains a wide variety of programs that have been developed and implemented over the years to combat recidivism (individuals reoffending). Each program has been designed in its own unique way to teach, inform and lift up individuals who are presently or formerly incarcerated.

Why am I sharing this with you? If you have ever been inside our store, you will have no doubt observed countless volunteers busy at work, volunteers of diverse backgrounds and from all walks of life, some who know very little about the criminal justice system and others who know far more than they probably should. At any rate, the single, defining thread that is woven throughout this group is the clear, unmistakable understanding that what each and every volunteer does here matters ... a lot. Regardless of whether she/he is dusting, lifting, sorting, pricing, counting change, cutting grass or performing some other necessary task, each, by contributing to the overall organizational effort, is making a special difference, directly or indirectly, in another person’s life. And that includes our volunteer workers from the Centre County Correctional Facility as well.

That’s right. The men and women from the CCCF who work at CentrePeace each day do so because they want to, not because it is a requirement. And quite frankly, it would be much easier for them not to volunteer at CentrePeace, but instead simply sit back at the jail and quietly do their time, out of sight of the general public. But instead, our trainees, in their bright orange jump suits or shorts emblazoned with CCCF for all to see, choose to come to CentrePeace to work ... and work hard they do. It must take an incredible amount of courage to place one’s mistakes on public display each and every day as these folks do here. Yet, each has made the decision to give back to the community in ways that most others would never consider.

So, the next time you see one of our trainees loading a piece of furniture into a customer’s vehicle or vacuuming our showroom floor, please stop and say thanks. They are working for the good of the community, making life better for others, while paying their debt to society for a mistake that they have made somewhere along the way.

I am regularly inspired by our trainees. They fill me with great hope for our (and their) future.

Thomas L. Brewster is the executive director of CentrePeace.