B.S.H. Staffers Meet Their Match During P.R.H.C. Wheelchair Football Game

By James Rioux

November 8th, 2016-Canton

“Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do” ~ Coach John Wooden.bshbasketball

Back Row-Left to Right: Tammy Duarte (MTC), Denise Vega, David Duarte,

Daniel Calis, Robert Blood, Allen Clang

Middle Row-Left to Right: Tina Anthony, David Brouillette, Michael Rosano,

Donald Dufresne, Steve Kennedy

Former basketball player and NCAA coach John Wooden holds the record for most consecutive champions won, at an astounding seven.  But, what is most notable about this coach is not his record but his advice.  Wooden coached with overarching positivity and a “can do” mantra that all coaches, and players strive for. The Pappas Rehabilitation School also subscribes to a similar philosophy, and the Department of Correction is honored to play a small role in putting it into practice.   For nearly a decade the Department of Correction has shared a special bond with the children and staff of the Pappas Rehabilitation Hospital for Children (PRHC), formerly the Massachusetts Hospital School.  There is a healthy competition of “can do” on the courts of the campus where patients of the Hospital compete against Department of Correction staff in various sporting events.  From football to basketball, the players have a connection that is rooted in a genuine interest in building meaningful partnerships outside of their community, sharing their love for friendly competition, and most importantly following the “can do” way of living.

PRHC is a pediatric chronic care hospital for children, adolescents, and young adults ages 8-22.  Their mission is to provide medical, rehabilitative, educational, recreational, transitional, and complementary alternative medical services to children and young adults with multiple disabilities, assisting them to achieve their optimal level of independence in all aspects of life.  The games are an integral part of the independence of the children.  It is often said “sports do not build character, they reveal it”.  This can be seen firsthand at PRHC.

Superintendent Daniel Calis who has been volunteering at the school since the games were first established, states that this community outreach initiative has grown into a competitive but friendly rivalry between our two agencies.  Calis states he feels “fortunate to have been given the opportunity to be a part of such an amazing experience.  There is a brotherhood and camaraderie between the players that cannot be described.   It’s a really special thing.” Through the years, Superintendent Calis and his staff have competed in different types of wheelchair sporting events including football, basketball, and hockey.

Brian, 21, who has been a student at the school for many years and is living with Cerebral Palsy (CP), a disorder that affects muscle tone, movement, and motor skills states he looks forward to the competitive matchups with the DOC.  In the wheelchair football game held at the school on Tuesday, November 8th, Brian played on both sides of the ball (offense and defense) making key stops on the court and scoring a touchdown in the 35-35 tie.  Brian, like his classmates, is an excellent example of persistence and overcoming adversity- Brian has the can do attitude.

Brian Devin, PRHC CEO describes the partnership with the DOC as significant in the lives of these children, noting how the kids “light up” when they see members of a correctional agency challenge them on their home court.  Devin can see the impact that sporting events and feeling like a part of team does for his students.  “Every child wants to be part of team, to compete, to be a player at some point.  These games give the kids that chance.” He extends his appreciation to the DOC for playing such a vital role in his students’ lives and for participating in the experiences that reveal their “can do” potential.

If you are a parent or guardian of a disabled child, adolescent, or young adult and are interested in learning more about the services PRHC can provide, Mr. Devin invites you to call him directly at 781-830-8427.  You can also find PRHC on the web at www.mhsf.us.  If you are employed by the DOC and would like to participate at an upcoming PRHC event or would like to learn more information about the PRHC, contact Tina Anthony at 508-279-4511.  If you would like to make a donation to the school checks can be made payable to MHSF at the Pappas Rehabilitation Hospital for Children 3 Randolph St. Canton, MA 02021.  The PRHC also accepts donations of prom clothing for their annual prom.  Donations can be dropped off at the above address.

Team DOC volunteers at the Mass Hospital School Prom

Many times per year for various events, members of Team DOC volunteer their time and talents.  One of our favorite places to volunteer is with the kids at the Massachusetts Hospital School in Canton.  We’ve taken part in wheelchair basketball, football and sled hockey games there.  We used to play against the students, but they were too good and dominated, so in recent years we learned to mix in.  We provide gifts and spread cheer during the holidays and put on big screen movies during the summer months.

One of our favorite events is the Mass Hospital School prom.  At age 22, students at the Mass Hospital School graduate and move on from the school to a community setting.  The prom is very well attended and is like most proms with a few exceptions.  The first thing that strikes you as you walk in, is that there are very few chairs around the nicely  decorated tables.  Most of the kids at the school use wheel chairs to get around.  The next thing you’d notice is the army of volunteers and staff who attend to all of the prom goers needs.  Some need help with eating, many can’t swallow very well, so they have special meals that are brought in.

The kids are all excited, they are dressed to the nines and are there to strut their stuff.  As they get off of the caravan of buses and vans, they come in and have professional photographers take their photos as they enter the decorated hallways and ballroom of The Lantana in Randolph.  They roll in to the ballroom with lists of songs that they’d like to hear and smiles on their faces.

These are your typical young adults, they come as couples or singles.  They sit in their cliques and chat each other up, but after dinner the festivities really commence.  With all of the physical challenges these kids have in their lives, it does not effect their spirit one bit.  They get on the dance floor and move to the best of their ability, whether it’s one hand or simply rocking to the music.  The hospital school staff take every opportunity to get the kids up out of their chairs if they’re able so that they can show off their dance moves.  They hold couples up so that they can slow dance together.  The excitement is contagious.

What is not lost on anyone who attends is that these kids have the same hopes, dreams and aspirations as people without the physical challenges these kids endure on a daily basis.  They laugh, cry, love and hope.  They enjoy each and every song, but have their favorites.  The staff and volunteers have as much fun as the kids.  It truly does fill your soul when you see the broad smiles as a couple struggles to find each other’s hand during a slow song, finally grasping each other as they sway to the music.  Their sheer determination is inspiring.

Team DOC provides the music, the kids at the Mass Hospital School provide the joy.  If you haven’t had the opportunity to volunteer there in the past, please take the time to get there for an event, you’ll definitely get more out of it than even the kids do.

A New Dog In Town

Last July “Project Good Dog” began at NCCI Gardner.  It started as a means to help shelter dogs with behavioral issues, become more adoptable. The dogs that enter the program are shelter dogs that have been surrendered by their owners, come from animal control, or were transferred from another shelter.  Kristen English, a Correctional Program Officer C at NCCI Gardner and Project Good Dog coordinator, states the facility can accommodate five dogs at a time and has had a total of 19 dogs that have completed the program since July.

Project Good Dog Collage PNG copy

Dogs are paired and housed with an inmate handler for a 6 – 8 week period during this intensive curriculum. They learn to become house broken, basic obedience, kennel training, socialization, leash training, and a few simple tricks.

The program is organized by the Second Chance Animal Shelter in East Brookfield, Ma. They are a nationally recognized organization that provides innovative programs and services to help animals.

If you would like to adopt a dog or support Project Good Dog please contact:

CPO Kristen English @ NCCI Gardner

Phone: 978-630-6000  x119
Email: kristen.english@massmail.state.ma.us

Or the Second Chance Animal Shelter

Phone: 508-867-5525  Good Dog

Email: info@secondchanceanimals.org

Web: www.secondchanceanimals.org

Colbey Santos and Gary Pope are not only coaches, they are role models

As time expired, the Bishop Stang boys’ basketball team quickly realized what they had accomplished in becoming state champions with their impressive 80-64 victory over Oxford at the MassMutual Center.  What you may not know is that two DOC staffers coached the team and mentored the young men both on and off the court.

Recreation Officer Colbey Santos and Correction Officer Gary Pope were both standout athletes in their own right.  They teamed up this past year to coach the Bishop Stang boys’ basketball team and their immediate success was impressive.  Colbey works at MCI Cedar Junction and is in the early stages of his career, while Gary currently works at the Central Transportation Unit and has had a long and successful career.  They are both very respected members of “Team DOC.”

Head coach Colbey Santos, “this year was very exciting to be able to do something that has never been done at Stang and that’s winning a state title.  Academically we are one of the toughest schools in Massachusetts and that’s why I wanted to coach here.  All year long we would hear, in the next few years Bishop Stang will be good, they’re just young.  Our coaching staff was able to take a group of freshman and sophomores and bring home a trophy!  I’m very proud of this group.  Academically, emotionally and physically, these boys persevered.”

To be a second year coach and lead a team to a state championship is quite an impressive feat.  Kudos to Colbey and Gary.  Thank you for representing the Massachusetts Department of Correction in your community.  You make us all very proud.

I Found a Credit Card Skimmer, How I Found It

by Chris Fallon

This past Saturday evening, my wife and I along with some friends were heading to the Rhode Island Convention Center to attend the Camping and RV show.  We parked at the Providence Place Mall and walked across the skybridge that connects the mall to the Omni Providence Hotel and eventually leads to the Convention Center.  When we reached the Omni Hotel directly across the skybridge, I spotted an ATM machine and decided to grab some cash.  This particular ATM machine was the type that you insert the narrow end of your card into and then withdraw it quickly.  The ATM machine instructed me to enter my pin.  I made the transaction like I normally would and it dispensed the cash.

I noticed that something just didn’t feel right about the whole thing.  I know that most of us have seen the items on the news that reports about credit and debit card skimmers, but they never fully describe what to look for, so I’m about to tell you what I felt.

We’ve all likely used the type of ATM machine that I used at a mall or a gas station or a restaurant.  There was absolutely nothing special about it.  This time was different though.  As I slid my debit card into the machine, it felt like there was less of my card to grip between my finger and thumb.  I know that might sound a bit strange, but if you’ve used an ATM machine enough, you should know what I mean.  It felt like I had to slide the card in an extra 1/4 inch or so.  Once the transaction was complete, I thought, let me just check.  I pulled on the bottom of the plastic where my card slides in and it moved just a bit and actually pinched the tip of the ring finger on my right hand.  At that point, I pulled really hard on the plastic card guide and it came off the front of the machine and into my hand.  My wife asked “what the hell are you doing?”  I said look and pointed to an exact replica of what was in my hand, it was still on the front of the ATM machine.  skimmer front

I could not believe what I was seeing and inspected the piece that was in my hand.  It appeared as though the tiny electronic components and the two crude batteries had been soldered in by hand.  There was a small blue LED and a microSD memory card, sort of like the type that is in your cellular telephone.  To be honest, it almost seemed surreal, because you never expect to actually have this happen to you and better yet have your suspicion confirmed.  I guess having been a Corrections Officer for so many years made me a bit more suspicious.  I was able to remove the microSD memory card and I broke it into a few pieces, because I figured it had my information and the information of countless others on it.  I brought the device to the lobby and the people at the desk called hotel security.  The security officer took the device and I handed her a few of the memory card pieces.  I only handed her a few, because as I stated, I’m suspicious, and now everyone is a suspect (not really, but you never know).skimmer back

In any case, what I’d like to leave you with are these thoughts.  The ATM did not look out of the ordinary.  If something doesn’t feel right to you, take an extra moment to investigate it a bit further.  The device was on the machine really tightly, I assume it had some type of light adhesive.  There were cameras everywhere, but that didn’t seem to be a deterrent.

I am posting the actual photos that I took with my phone camera that evening so you can see what I saw.  The good news is that I had no suspicious activity on my card, because it seemed to store the information on the microSD memory card.  I’m not sure if they all work like that, but I figured that I would share my experience.

Military Peer Support Patriot Award

By  Sergeant Keith Germain – Military Peer Support Specialist

The past four years the Military Peer Support Program (MPSP) has put an annual road race together to raise funds for our veterans in their time of need.  The money is used for a variety of situations from care packages, lawn care and snow removal for deployed officers, as well as money given to officers during financial crises and donations to local veteran outreach centers.

A new component of the MPSP race is the annual “Patriot Award”. The team event was added to last year’s MPSP race to create team spirit and increase participation.  The objective for a team was to have the most members register for the event whether it was to walk or run.  As captain of “Team Framingham”, Officer Golden recruited 21 members which led Framingham to victory.  Having the greatest amount of participants, Framingham received the first Patriot Award for last year’s 2015 Annual Military Peer Support Road Race.Patriot Award (2)

It was a great pleasure to be along side Correction Officers Danielle Golden and Yolanda Henderson as they presented Superintendent Paul Henderson of MCI-Framingham with the Military Peer Support 5K Run/Walk “Patriot Award” and thanked him for his continued support in our efforts to assist DOC veterans.

Save the date for our 5th Annual MPSP 5k it is scheduled for Sunday May 22, 2016 with a new web site to register.  www.northeastracers.com

 

 

DOC Employees bring Christmas Cheer to the Mass Hospital School

It’s become an annual tradition for DOC employees to visit the Massachusetts Hospital School in Canton in December during the holiday season.  This year was no exception.  Team DOC brought bunches of Christmas cheer and spent the day with the wonderful staff and children there.  The children at the Massachusetts Hospital School face daily challenges that most of us could never fathom, but their spirit never waivers.  The mission of The Massachusetts Hospital School (MHS) is to provide medical, rehabilitative, educational, recreational, habilitative, transitional, and complementary alternative medical services to children and young adults with multiple disabilities, assisting them to achieve their optimal level of independence in all aspects of life.  We’d like to acknowledge the wonderful employees of the DOC who give of themselves time and again to volunteer at the Mass Hospital School and other venues throughout the Commonwealth.  Keep up the great work, you are truly ambassadors for our agency.

It takes a village

By Shawn Zoldak

Northeastern Correctional Centers Deputy Superintendent Colette Santa along with Culinary Art Instructor Ed Jacobs, Sgt. Shawn Zoldak and Industrial Instructor John Larson delivered a Gingerbread Village created by Chef Jacobs and his culinary arts students, to Chelsea Gordon, Volunteer Manager, at The Home for Little Wanderers in Roslindale. The group also delivered numerous toys, all of which were donated during a toy drive, by staff and the public attending culinary arts. The village was placed at the entrance to the building, Thrift shop of Boston. The thrift shop is managed by Chris Roth and all proceeds directly benefit the children’s programs. Also accepting the donations was Rick Houpt, director of Development, who explained that the program also has a culinary component that the children attend and enjoy tremendously.

gingerbread village

The Home for Little Wanderers provides a seamless continuum of vital programs and services for every stage of child and family development. For more than 200 years, we’ve earned a reputation for doing whatever it takes to strengthen vulnerable families and keep children safe in their own communities, even when they don’t have family support.

home for lil

Serving children and youth from birth to 22, The Home makes a positive impact on over 7,000 lives each year through a network of services including behavioral health, therapeutic residential and special education, adoption and foster care. In addition, a number of innovative programs provide specialized assistance to youth transitioning to adulthood from state systems of care.

We continuously measure the impact of our work to develop and enhance our programs. We never give up on children. And we don’t let children give up on themselves. By advocating on behalf of each and every one of them, we strengthen our families, our communities and our Commonwealth

Group

Left to Right: Three volunteers, Deputy Colette Santa, Culinary Instructor Ed Jacobs, Home for Little Wanderers Volunteer Manager Chelsea Gordon, Thrift Shop manager Chris Roth.