Boonville Inmates Help in the Community
COOPER COUNTY - For the 15th year, the Prison Outreach Committee at Nelson Memorial United Methodist Church in Boonville has put together a project to introduce the inmates to their faith, as well as do a service for the community. This year, ten inmates from the Boonville Correction Center are building a new gazebo at the Cooper County Memorial Hospital.
Tom Maxwell, the committee chair, uses the program to try and encourage the inmates to accept Christ into their lives. He said he believes doing so will help them in the future. On top of that, he said the project can change the way others in the community view the inmates. Maxwell said the inmates like the opportunity to improve their reputation in the eyes of the community.
"We're not just all bad," said Boonville inmate Justin Collins. "We're trying to give back to the community." Collins also pointed out the luxury he enjoys that many others take for granted. "I get to come out, so any time you get out of the gates, it's amazing. There's people that are less fortunate who don't get to come out here who are stuck behind the cage 24/7."
Maxwell called the project a "win-win," saying it helped keep the men out of prison in the future by giving them a chance to change their lives in the present. Maxwell and others try to help do that by showing the inmates they care about them regardless of their pasts.
"It's enlightening to know someone out there does care for you as an individual and a person," said inmate Antoine Petty. "They see me as a person--a child of God--who's willing to give back to the community to show that unity and that love is there for every individual, no matter where you come from or where you've been."
The inmates will be working on the gazebo for the remainder of the week. After the project is finished, they will be honored and thanked for their work at a service at Nelson Memorial United Methodist Church on Sunday.