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Food For Thought from Our Founder Percy Pitzer

August 12, 2016 8:46 pm

I am a retired warden with 30 years working in corrections. When I retired in 2002, my wife and I started a consulting business and have been somewhat successful. It was 4 years ago we decided to start a foundation, 501 (C) 3, to give back to the occupation that provided so much to my family. Starting a foundation is not an easy task. Our first goal was to provide scholarships to children with incarcerated parents. So far, we have provided $118,000.00 in scholarships to these young adults.

Thinking that society believes inmates are a major problem, I decided to get inmates involved in giving them an opportunity to donate. So far, we have 10 state departments of corrections as partners with the foundation and to date, they have donated $51,000.00, with 100 percent of donations provided by inmates going to scholarships. I have one inmate committed to donating $1.00 per month. He stated education is the answer to crime and I agree with him. What makes this so special is that this inmate is on death row at Angola.

A year ago, my wife and I looked at our own community, Beaumont, Texas and found a high poverty rate among the African American population. We also looked at Milwaukee Wisconsin where the African American population has 50 percent of the male population in their 30s and below who are either incarcerated or have been incarcerated at one time. We decided to take on both. Last year, in partnership with Lamar Institute of Technology, Beaumont, TX, we placed 31 at risk young adults into the college and this year, we have 29 enrolled.

The kids living in the north side of Milwaukee are living in hell, much like many other cities. Right now, because they have such a high number of high school dropouts, we are concentrating on getting them to finish high school, in partnership with the Milwaukee Area Technical College, then into a 2 year program. In Beaumont and Milwaukee, I could tell stories about the living conditions of these kids that the average person would never believe.

The process is slow because I can only deal with the resources we have available. My wife and I do not take a salary from the foundation, in fact, we donated more than $200,000.00 of our own money to get the foundation started. I don’t attempt to get government grants, because there are too many road blocks. Besides, the communities need to become more involved in their own community. One side of the track has no idea what’s happening on the other side. We are determined, come hell or high water, our efforts will be successful in many cities over time.

Our foundation is Creative Corrections Education Foundation. Our goal is not to make money for ourselves, just make a positive difference in the lives of others that have been less fortunate than us. These young adults don’t need a hand out, they need a hand up.

People need to become involved in their own community in making a positive difference.