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Airway Heights Inmates Provide Firewood to Families in Storm-Stricken Communities

January 15, 2016

By Rachel Friederich

DOC Communications

An inmate crew working on a fallen tree preparing it for firewood.

An inmate crew working on a fallen tree. (Tim Kelly , DOC Communications)

AIRWAY HEIGHTS - Inmates at the Airway Heights Corrections Center (AHCC) came to the rescue last month by providing families with firewood to keep their homes warm, after an epic windstorm left thousands of residents without power.

Leading up to the storm, inmates had spent months cutting, splitting and stacking around 800 cords of firewood, according to Correctional Program Manager, Michael Klemke. Inmates at the AHCC prepare firewood for the Spokane Neighborhood Action Program for delivery to low-income families.

In the week following the storm, inmates loaded 164 cords of the collected wood onto trucks that delivered the wood to about 500 homes without power or heat.

Inmates have provided firewood to low-income families for the past 18 years, Klemke said, noting that the most rewarding part is knowing the inmates’ efforts are helping to keep families warm through the winter months.

“My staff tell me that it’s not uncommon to see recipients in tears (of joy) when the wood is delivered to them,” Klemke said. “That is why we strive to keep the wood program in motion.”

He adds the work teaches the inmates skills and work ethics that are essential tools for reentry, while gaining satisfaction from helping others. “The inmates feel as though they are giving back to the community,” Klemke said.

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