By Phyllis Booth
Newly-elected Worcester county Sheriff Lew Evangelidis toured the NEADS – Dogs for Deaf & Disabled Americans – campus in Princeton last week to see the work done by officer supervised inmates as part of the community service program.
Since being elected, Evangelidis has doubled the community service program.
“It’s a win-win situation for everyone,” the Sheriff said. “The inmates benefit, feeling dignity doing a days work and feeling like they have contributed. Since I was elected, I’ve had four crews out every day. So far, they’ve done approximately $500,000 in work projects.”
It saves communities thousands of dollars and gives non-violent inmates who have earned their way into the program an opportunity to feel productive, Evangelidis said.
“It’s been a pleasure having them here,” said Sherrie Forest, representing NEADS. “They scraped, primed and painted a fence outside the kennels that would have taken us a long time to do. We have four buildings on campus and they did all the raking and yard work, and cleaned the sand from the parking lot.”
At six hours a day for four days, Evangelidis estimated the work would have cost NEADS between $3,000- $5,000. Evangelidis spoke with the inmates and asked how they felt about the opportunity to do the work. One man said he was grateful for the opportunity and looking forward to his release in August when he hoped to be able to get a job and be reunited with his 12-year old son.
Inmates recently completed work at the Hubbardston Youth Baseball Field and at the Johnny Appleseed Visitors Center in Lancaster.
“It’s been a joy having them here, they’ve accomplished so much,” said Forest.