Incarcerated veterans help sort books for early learning initiative

1 week 2 days 12 hours ago Monday, February 10 2020 Feb 10, 2020 Monday, February 10, 2020 1:14:00 PM CST February 10, 2020 in A Brighter Tomorrow
Source: CNN
By: Taylor Denman

Gwinnett County, GA (Gwinnett Daily Post) -- U.S. Air Force veteran Martez English remembers being an avid reader when he was a kid, thanks to the “Book It” program that rewarded him with a free pan pizza for reading a particular amount of books.

With a library card that granted him a bounty of options for reading, he estimates he netted a profit of about 50 pan pizzas from his reading efforts.

English, an inmate at Gwinnett County Jail and member of its veterans-only unit, said he still loves reading. He said he’s sped through the “Maze Runner” series.

English said it was “a little surprising” to hear from Ellen Gerstein, Gwinnett Coalition’s executive director, that 52% of students starting kindergarten in Gwinnett County are unprepared when it comes to reading.

“I think by us giving back, this is going to help out to the community, to the kids,” English said.

That passion for reading led him to volunteer to sort book donations for Gwinnett Coalition’s G.R.E.A.T. Little Minds book exchange project. Members of “The Barracks” unit sorted roughly 5,000 books into individual stacks of 50 to be placed in book exchanges when they are eventually installed throughout Gwinnett County.

Last month, off-duty deputies loaded and transported more than 2,000 pounds of donated books for G.R.E.A.T. Little Minds to Gwinnett County Jail. Katie Gill, G.R.E.A.T. Little Minds Program Director said Wednesday’s volunteer opportunity for The Barracks is an example of a potentially ongoing partnership between the Gwinnett Coalition and the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office.

“The partnership came around because this would be a good community service project for (inmates) to volunteer for,” Gill said.

Through community volunteers and partnerships with Gwinnett County Public Schools, Gwinnett Coalition has built 148 exchanges and decorated about 100. Gill said G.R.E.A.T. Little Minds is seeking stewards — local businesses and organizations — to take care of the book exchanges. They will be placed in public spaces throughout Gwinnett County where children without books can take them to read. Eventually, the exchanges will have a take-one, leave-one policy. She’s also looking to accumulate more book donations.

The Barracks at Gwinnett County Jail launched in November 2019 as a 70-bed unit to support specifically incarcerated veterans. The goal is to help inmates make a successful transition back into the community. English said his experience in The Barracks unit has provided a sense of community and brotherhood within the walls of Gwinnett County Jail.

“We’re taking good men, placing them in a better place so they can be the best they can be when they get out,” English said.

The Barracks program was developed to provide therapeutic services for incarcerated veterans to address emotional and physical trauma associated with military service that can lead to serious pitfalls such as substance abuse, alcoholism and mental health issues.

“Military service should always be remembered,” Deputy Chief Lou Solis said. “We’re committed to helping these veterans get their lives in order by creating a program to provide them with resources to increase the likelihood they won’t return to jail once they’re released. This program benefits much more than the inmates who participate. Our whole community benefits when these veterans get the help they need to get their lives back on track.”

As G.R.E.A.T. Little Minds advances and adds new partners each week, Gill is excited by the enthusiasm of outside organizations, like the Sheriff’s Department, to help keep the project moving forward.

“It’s been amazing in the fact that from the top down, everybody is on board,” Gill said.

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2020 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

More News

Grid
List
LAS VEGAS — The latest on the 2020 presidential campaign and Democratic debate 6 p.m. Six Democratic... More >>
5 hours ago Wednesday, February 19 2020 Feb 19, 2020 Wednesday, February 19, 2020 8:07:00 PM CST February 19, 2020 in News
SPRINGFIELD- A retired Catholic priest has been charged in Missouri with multiple counts of child sexual abuse stemming from... More >>
5 hours ago Wednesday, February 19 2020 Feb 19, 2020 Wednesday, February 19, 2020 7:54:00 PM CST February 19, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - While the snow disappears with warmer weather, potholes are opening in roads around mid-Missouri. Street division employees... More >>
7 hours ago Wednesday, February 19 2020 Feb 19, 2020 Wednesday, February 19, 2020 5:43:00 PM CST February 19, 2020 in News
BOONE COUNTY - Joseph Elledge, the husband of missing Columbia woman Mengqi Ji Elledge, has been charged with first-degree murder,... More >>
8 hours ago Wednesday, February 19 2020 Feb 19, 2020 Wednesday, February 19, 2020 5:05:00 PM CST February 19, 2020 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - A U.S. Army Veteran is passing through Jefferson City on Thursday as part of his effort to... More >>
8 hours ago Wednesday, February 19 2020 Feb 19, 2020 Wednesday, February 19, 2020 4:37:00 PM CST February 19, 2020 in News
ASHLAND - After the Landmark Bank and Simmons First National merger on February 18, residents in Ashland are seeing some... More >>
9 hours ago Wednesday, February 19 2020 Feb 19, 2020 Wednesday, February 19, 2020 4:16:00 PM CST February 19, 2020 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Clean Missouri was approved by 62% of Missourians in 2018. Now, some Missouri lawmakers want to reverse... More >>
10 hours ago Wednesday, February 19 2020 Feb 19, 2020 Wednesday, February 19, 2020 3:19:00 PM CST February 19, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - A public defender representing a Columbia man who plotted a terrorist attack has asked for a 15-year sentence.... More >>
10 hours ago Wednesday, February 19 2020 Feb 19, 2020 Wednesday, February 19, 2020 2:43:00 PM CST February 19, 2020 in News
JEFFERSON CITY – People from all around Missouri and lawmakers packed into a hearing room in the Missouri Capitol Wednesday... More >>
11 hours ago Wednesday, February 19 2020 Feb 19, 2020 Wednesday, February 19, 2020 2:22:00 PM CST February 19, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - Columbia parents and candidates for the Columbia Board of Education met Wednesday to discuss special education. This... More >>
11 hours ago Wednesday, February 19 2020 Feb 19, 2020 Wednesday, February 19, 2020 2:04:00 PM CST February 19, 2020 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - State lawmakers on the House Elections and Elected Officials committee heard testimony on a bill that could... More >>
12 hours ago Wednesday, February 19 2020 Feb 19, 2020 Wednesday, February 19, 2020 12:59:00 PM CST February 19, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - A Fulton man has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for a 2018 Columbia homicide. 30-year-old... More >>
13 hours ago Wednesday, February 19 2020 Feb 19, 2020 Wednesday, February 19, 2020 12:23:00 PM CST February 19, 2020 in News
FULTON - The State Technical College of Missouri is partnering with the Callaway Chamber of Commerce to provide the MoAMP... More >>
14 hours ago Wednesday, February 19 2020 Feb 19, 2020 Wednesday, February 19, 2020 10:55:00 AM CST February 19, 2020 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt announced his candidacy to keep the seat Wednesday. Schmitt was appointed... More >>
15 hours ago Wednesday, February 19 2020 Feb 19, 2020 Wednesday, February 19, 2020 10:13:00 AM CST February 19, 2020 in News
Loxahatchee, FL – According to the national institute of mental health, nearly one in five people in the United States... More >>
16 hours ago Wednesday, February 19 2020 Feb 19, 2020 Wednesday, February 19, 2020 9:20:00 AM CST February 19, 2020 in A Brighter Tomorrow
FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) — The man suspected of shooting an off-duty police officer at a Walmart store in the... More >>
1 day ago Tuesday, February 18 2020 Feb 18, 2020 Tuesday, February 18, 2020 8:53:16 PM CST February 18, 2020 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - One Missouri advocacy group will show up in numbers to support its cause on Wednesday. Decoding... More >>
1 day ago Tuesday, February 18 2020 Feb 18, 2020 Tuesday, February 18, 2020 7:50:00 PM CST February 18, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA-- Lawyers for a Columbia businessman, Dimetrius Woods, are employing last ditch efforts to keep him out of prison. ... More >>
1 day ago Tuesday, February 18 2020 Feb 18, 2020 Tuesday, February 18, 2020 7:00:00 PM CST February 18, 2020 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 29°
2am 27°
3am 26°
4am 24°
5am 23°