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Rehabilitation Programs Division

Volunteer Services Program

2014 Governor’s Criminal Justice Volunteer Service Awards

Plainview Organization Receives Governor’s 2014 Criminal Justice Volunteer Award

Photo of Award Winner(s) From left to right: Texas Board of Criminal Justice Chairman Oliver Bell, Linda Milner Shipp, Keynote Speaker Judge Cathy Cochran and Texas Department of Criminal Justice Executive Director Brad Livingston.

(Austin) – During ceremonies in Austin today, Linda Milner Shipp accepted the Governor’s 2014 Criminal Justice Volunteer “Best Family Program” Award on behalf of the “My Dad Reads to Me Program.” The program provides an opportunity for incarcerated fathers to read books to their children which are recorded by volunteers from the Runningwater Draw Ready to Serve Volunteer Program (RSVP).

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.”

The “My Dad Reads to Me Program” began in 2006 in a collaboration between RSVP and Warden David Cole with the Formby/Wheeler Units. The first participant was recorded in January 2007.

RSVP receives age appropriate books from the Hale County Literacy Council. Dads may read up to three books per child while volunteers record them along with a message of love and encouragement. The CD and books are then mailed to the children.

Surveys from the children’s guardians indicate improved reading skills as a result of reading along with their father’s recording of the same book. The children also show a marked improvement in self-esteem and strengthened family ties. Incarcerated fathers also show improved reading skills and increased self-esteem.

As of 2014, 327 fathers have been recorded reading to their 654 children and 2,147 books have been mailed. 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.

“My Dad Reads to Me Program” is one of 6 organizations and 15 individuals from across the state recognized today for their efforts to help offenders while incarcerated and after release.

Note to media: For more information, contact Jason Clark 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.