The Challenge…    by     Rory Andes

…can make you better or it can make you bitter…

Over the last few days, portions of the prison complex I reside in have gone through periods of quarantine over fears of COVID-19. While until now things were precautionary, this week they discovered that the virus has entered the prison. A few nights ago I could see the news helicopters circling overhead as a group of inmates took their stand as they saw fit to protest. To the credit of the staff, those who still continue to show up for work, they handled the situation with all hands and have been working long hours since. Tensions can get high, but the one thing that keeps reoccurring is that we’re all in this together. Like those who have stepped up to be better for their community, the same is true here.

A very small detail of us inmates – Ruth, Marshall, myself and others – are part of a ten man team to use any spare moment we have to create masks for inmates. Ten thousand, as I was directed. Ten thousand. The trick is, half of this team is on quarantine for now. Ten thousand is a giant expectation, five people down creates brutal workloads, and the ones we’re doing this for claim it’s too little, too late. It’s an overwhelming challenge and it can make us better or make us bitter. If you know anything about us from our purpose of true and real rehabilitation, you will know it’s making us better. And I love a challenge like this.

So, we converted our small quilting room into a production shop and in three hours knocked out enough masks for sixty inmates. There’s a learning curve and we expect more productivity in the coming days. We planned out and converted our space to allow for streamlining and the challenge of communicating with administration, calming our friends in the units and making things work is real. But, we’re doing it. For me, this is the thing I love… a challenge that helps thousands. When we can ensure our safety, we can ensure others and this challenge ha all the potential to make us bitter, but it didn’t. It didn’t because we’re better….

by Rory Andes

Take the challenge of being better for a bigger purpose….

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Rory Andes 367649
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Monroe, WA 98272