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Rehabilitation Programs Division

Volunteer Services Program

2014 Governor’s Criminal Justice Volunteer Service Awards

Literacy Highland Lakes Receives Governor’s 2014 Criminal Justice Volunteer Award

Front row, from left to right: Literacy Highland Lakes Executive Director Sally May, group board member Sue Wieland and volunteers JoAnn Donnelly and Genie Boyd. Back row, from left to right: Texas Board of Criminal Justice Chairman Oliver Bell, Keynote Speaker Judge Cathy Cochran and Texas Department of Criminal Justice Executive Director Brad Livingston.

(Austin) – During ceremonies in Austin today, Sally May of Granite Shoals accepted the Governor’s 2014 Criminal Justice Volunteer “Judy Burd – Windham School District” Award on behalf of Literacy Highland Lakes. For 27 years, this 501(c)(3) volunteer-based non-profit group has conducted GED classes at the Ellen Halbert Unit in Burnet, Texas.

The award was presented by Oliver Bell, Chairman of the Texas Board of Criminal Justice, and TDCJ Executive Director Brad Livingston.

“These men and women give their time not for monetary reward,” said Livingston. “They volunteer because they have a personal passion in seeing others succeed. We are grateful for their selfless dedication.”

Literacy Highland Lakes volunteers come to the Halbert Unit twice a week to teach and help offenders in one-on-one scenarios prepare for the GED test. With enthusiasm and patience they work with the offenders to accomplish their goal. Last year, 41 offenders received their GED. All of the tutors are college graduates and most have been teachers. In recognition of their dedication, the volunteers of Literacy Highland Lakes have been selected to receive the Windham School District’s “Judy Burd” Award.

The award is named in tribute to curriculum specialist Judy Burd who worked for the Windham School District where she developed the nationally recognized pre-release program called CHANGES. She was also the Volunteer Program Coordinator for the district who encouraged others to give of their time in service to others. Judy Burd also taught adult education classes at night in her community where she helped many people learn to read and write.

Literacy Highland Lakes is one of 6 organizations and 15 individuals from across the state recognized today for their efforts to help inmates and those who are on parole or probation. Annually, some 21,000 volunteers make 145,000 visits to criminal justice facilities and work with offenders who are on supervision, donating some 460,000 hours of service.

Note to media: For more information, contact Jason Clark by e-mail at jason.clark@tdcj.texas.gov – Photos of award recipients will be available on the TDCJ Web site at http://www.tdcj.texas.gov. For high resolution photos, please contact Jene Andersen at jene.andersen@tdcj.texas.gov.