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Rehabilitation Programs Division

Volunteer Services Program

2012 Governor’s Criminal Justice Volunteer Service Awards

Houston Woman Receives Governor's 2012 Criminal Justice Volunteer Award

Photo of Award Winner(s)

(Austin) - Michaela Burns of Houston was presented the Governor's 2012 Criminal Justice Volunteer Service Award today in recognition of her dedication to helping victims of crime and their families.

The award was presented by Texas Board of Criminal Justice Chairman Oliver Bell, and TDCJ Executive Director Brad Livingston today during a ceremony held in Austin. Burns is one of 13 individuals and 6 organizations from across the state recognized for their efforts to help offenders and those who are on parole or probation.

"Each of this year's award recipients personify a selfless dedication to helping offenders succeed both while incarcerated, and once they're released," said Livingston.

Burns was the recipient of the "Pathfinder" Award. The "Pathfinder" Award is given to an individual or group that has demonstrated leadership qualities in their volunteer service and made significant contributions to the welfare of victims.

Two and one-half years after her husband's tragic and untimely death, Michaela Burns decided she was ready to share her story in hopes of making a difference so others might not have to experience the painful, life-altering tragedy that she and her little girl experienced. Ms. Burns contacted the TDCJ, Victim Services Division and began the process of speaking at victim impact panels for audiences of paroled offenders in the Houston area. She emphasizes to her audience that every daily choice they make can affect many others, and urges them to make positive choices for themselves, their families, and their communities.

Michaela feels that if by addressing this type of audience, she can make just one of them reconsider their actions when they are faced with the choice of whether to commit a crime, it is well worth her time investment. She also believes that if just one remembers her story and makes a better choice when at a crossroad, then her husband will not have died in vain.

Burns is one of thousands of concerned volunteers, who like her; donate many hours of their personal time every year with the goal of changing the lives of convicted offenders, and aiding and comforting their victims. Annually, over 18,000 volunteers make 163,000 visits to criminal justice facilities and work with offenders who are on supervision, donating over 526,000 hours of service.

Note to media: For more information, contact Jason Clark, TDCJ Public Information Officer, at 936-437-6052 or by e-mail at jason.clark@tdcj.texas.gov.