COAL TOWNSHIP — A community aid program run by prisoners continues to help the Valley thanks to the SCI Coal Township superintendent and inmates.
Lifeline, a 250-inmate group, is preparing to help the Special Olympics and on Wednesday the group held a banquet inside the cafeteria with friends and family.
Superintendent Thomas McGinley loved the idea of Lifeline when he arrived at Coal Township in 2016 and brought it to the attention of Pennsylvania's Secretary of Corrections John Wetzel who then gave permission to begin operations.
"This group continues to impress me," McGinley said. "They just want to help and I use the word character to describe each of them."
Lifeline held its second annual family day Wednesday and Constance Hess, of Harrisburg, who was at the banquet visiting a relative, said the day is about family. "I give these men credit for all they are doing," she said. "We look forward to today — to sit and have a family meal and hear about what projects this group is helping."
Inmates who are serving 10 or more years, who have no misconducts, are not using drugs and who want to give back to their community can join Lifeline, McGinley said.
Lifeline created two other programs, Dare 2 Care and Inside Out, which is run by Bucknell University sociology professor Carl Milofsky said.
Milofsky heads the Inside Out program. His class visits the prison and sits with inmates while Milofsky teaches.
Dare 2 Care is an inmate mentoring program run by Lifeline members. Older inmates meet with new arrivals just coming into the prison system.
McGinley said Bloomsburg University contacted his office and also wants to be part of the Inside Out program.
"We are excited to continue helping out the community and these guys helping each other," McGinley said.