Westchester Corrections Department Launches Program with Afya for Inmate Rehabilitation
VALHALLA – As part of its robust rehabilitation program system, the Westchester County Corrections Department offers incarcerated people the opportunity to ‘give back to the community’.
This effort is the result of a partnership with AFYA, a nonprofit organization that helps global communities in need of medical supplies.
Afya, which means “health” or “well-being” in Swahili, works with a regional network of medical supply donors and volunteers to respond to immediate humanitarian needs in areas devastated by natural disasters or public health crises.
Corrections Department inmates participating in this volunteer program virtually learn to personalize packages of surplus medical supplies which are then shipped by Afya to global communities in need.
“Our agency recognizes the link between volunteering to help those in need and personal growth,” Corrections Commissioner Joseph Spano said. “Helping and working with others can have an impact on a person’s sense of purpose and their overall outlook on their life or future goals. Developing strong community partnerships like this is an important part of our progressive rehabilitation and reintegration strategies.
The preparation of packages of medical supplies takes place once a week at the county jail. Inmates are given instructions and advice to ensure that the work is done efficiently. The completed medical supply packages are then shipped to all regions of the world such as Cuba, Ghana, Haiti, the US Virgin Islands, Ukraine and more recently to Afghan refugee reception centers in New Jersey.
Asked about his experience in the program, one of the inmate volunteers said, “This program makes me feel better as a person. It feels good to know that despite my confinement I can still help communities and people in need. “
Another volunteer echoed this sentiment. “Being in this program gave me a different outlook on life. I didn’t really understand what countries in need really needed before this program. Being able to give back is rewarding… we can fall asleep thinking, Wow, I’ve really helped so many people.