The fabric of community service

Madison Correctional Institution (MaCI) recently donated a quilt, custom-made by an offender in the institution’s Community Stitches program, to the Madison County Municipal Court. On hand for the presentation were: (from left) Rob Slane, county administrator; Eric Schooley, county municipal court judge; Erika White, administrative assistant at MaCI; and Jeff Noble, MaCI warden.

(Posted May 2, 2018)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

The handiwork of an offender housed at Madison Correctional Institution (MaCI) now hangs on a wall at the Madison County Municipal Court building in London.

The handiwork: a quilt on which an outline of Madison County is the focal point. Each township is represented with a different color of fabric. The county’s founding date, 1810, is included as part of the design, as are the scales of justice, the state flag, and the state bird, the cardinal.

“The quilt features the different quilting and sewing techniques the offender has learned as part of the Community Stitches program,” said Lisa Crain, case manager at MaCI.

Community Stitches is one of several community service programs at the institution in which offenders can volunteer to participate. Members make walker bags, wheelchair bags, and adult clothing covers. For Alzheimer’s patients, they stitch together sensory mats to which they attach bits of burlap, silk and other textural items. For people who are homeless, they make “plarn” blankets–cutting strips of plastic grocery bags to use as a yarn of sorts to crochet wet-proof blankets.

And they’ve made over 200 quilts, which have been donated to local military veterans, HELP House, the Madison County Senior Center, and area nursing homes.

“In the last four years, our offenders have completed 800,000 hours of volunteer work through our different community service programs,” Crain said.

Among the other programs are crochet clubs whose members create toys, hats, scarves, mittens and other items as Christmas gifts for children in need. The Crayons to Computers group assembles flash card sets and tote bags for the backs of school chairs. Offenders also tend six gardens on MaCI’s grounds, donating thousands of pounds of produce to local food banks.

Of the 2,400 offenders at MaCI, approximately 15 percent take part in the service programs.

Crain said participation in activities and programs that contribute back to the larger community help with an offender’s success at re-entry into society after incarceration.

“We’re always open to ideas for other service projects. Just give us a call,” she said.

MaCI is located on State Route 56 on the northwest side of London. For more information about community service programs at the institution, call Erika White, administrative assistant to the superintendent, at (740) 852-9777.

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