Incarcerated work crew transforms church

When men from the local correctional facility started volunteering at St. Andrews United in Yorkton, it tranformed everyone. Diaconal minister Jen Dresser shares this story.

Three summers ago, the church people had gone to the lake and no one could mow the lawn. That’s when it started.

Whitespruce Training Centre—a pilot project at a new provincial correctional facility had a new work crew that was looking for things to do. One morning a van pulled up, and six men got out. They mowed grass, trimmed hedges, pulled weeds and came back once a week for the rest of the summer. They washed the big tall windows no one else would climb a ladder to clean.

When fall came, there was less outdoor work, and the work crew was still looking for things to do. They shovelled snow for seniors. They came inside and painted walls, shampooed carpets, cut out templates for children’s programs, made soup mixes for the food shelf, barbequed for the garage sale and moved the big, heavy tables for funerals and teas. There was some discomfort within the congregation about having people from the Whitespruce around. Was it safe? Would things go missing? Would someone get attacked?

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