MyHometownPost Brands

Oklahoma Department of Corrections hosting training session


The Oklahoma Department of Corrections will offer a training session for volunteers at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, February 2 and the Albright Methodist Church. The class will also allow those who have volunteer badges a chance to renew their status. Rev. Sheila Alford found a need at Ponca City’s Bridgeway Inc., 612 West Grand Avenue, for improved literacy and other education. Since a majority of the offenders will soon be released back into society, Alford said being able to read and effectively communicate are essential to finding a job and being successful after being released from custody. Alford recently met with area volunteers to discuss how to get area churches involved in rehabilitation process.

Bridgeway is a community housing and outpatient society that helps reintegrate DOC inmates prior to release and offers numerous substance abuse programs. Residents spend between three months to a year in the program, with an average of seven months. The facility also serves about 400 outpatient clients in addition to beds reserved for DOC inmates through a private contract. Alford, who serves as chaplain for all of DOC’s contracted halfway houses and community corrections facilities, said the problems facing Bridgeway clients are not unique to that facility. She said the programs train staff and volunteers to teach core classes and have a call list of religious leaders in that area to minister the clients. She said volunteers from the community are invaluable both in teaching and mentor-type rolls.

Bridgeway CEO Rod Tavanello said the facility has used volunteers in the past who would transport clients to church or other religious activities. Tavanello said some of the volunteers were having issues with their clients who would ask them for money or simply disappear during these outings. The facility began to provide volunteer training to help better prepare volunteers remedy this problem and better prepare volunteers to interact with the clients they were helping. The volunteer program has been successful in the past few years in complimenting the other services provided by Bridgeway.

Those interested in taking the volunteer class on Saturday can apply at Once the online application process is completed, call Alford at 405-778-7141 to be placed in the February 2 Training. Only those who have officially registered online will be rescheduled for that session.