DJJ in the Community: The Cordele Police Department's "Shop With A Cop" Program DJJ Staff  at:  12/31/2015  

DJJ in the Community: The Cordele Police Department's "Shop With A Cop" Program"

During the holiday season, Department of Juvenile Justice facilities from across Georgia work with local community partners to help make life a little better for our citizens. One such program that DJJ works with closely is the "Shop With A Cop" program sponsored by the Cordele Police Department. Below is local story on the program as written by Becky Crissman of the Cordele Dispatch with photos provided by the program organizer, Sergeant Ketorie Sales of the Cordele Police Department. DJJ would like to thank everyone who helped make this program a success in 2015.

Bridging the gap between kids and cops

Police department hosts 2nd Annual Shop with a Cop Event


As part of a continued effort to build better relationships with kids and local law enforcement the Cordele Police Department hosted their 2nd Annual “Shop with a Cop” event on Friday. SSgt. Ketorie Sales organized the event, which pairs cops with kids and provides gift cards for them to shop for Christmas.

“There is so much negativity involving police and citizens in other areas,” said Sales. “We want children in our community to know that we are here for them when and if they ever need us. We want kids to know we are not the bad guys.”

Local businesses, civic organizations, local and out of town individuals donated money to support “Shop with a Cop.” Through those donations the department raised enough money to give 30 children a $50 gift card each to shop.

Students were selected from the 3rd grade at Crisp County Primary School. The names of students with honor roll and perfect attendance were entered into a drawing where the 30 children were selected.

Sales said that there were additional children in the special needs class from Crisp County Primary School and Crisp County Elementary School, who could not go out for the event. Their wish lists were submitted to the department and officers delivered those items to the school on Thursday, much to the excitement of the children. They also gave away two bicycles at the high school.

“Shop with a Cop” was held on Friday, December 18 with the kids loaded onto a bus and transported to the Community Clubhouse where one sponsor provided a Chick-fil-A catered lunch. After lunch the bus loaded back up and it was off to Wal-Mart. Upon their arrival, kids were greeted by special surprise guests, Santa and Mrs. Claus. One by one kids were paired with a cop, and each duo was given a “Shop with a Cop” T-shirt and a $50 gift card for the child to shop in the store. Also pairing up with kids were representatives from the Department of Juvenile Justice, and some deputies from the Crisp County Sheriff’s Office.

“We had a good turnout and it was a great day,” said Sales. “Judging by the interactions between the officers and the kids I would say fun was had by all. The cops seemed to really have a good time with their little shoppers.”

“I really want to thank everyone who donated and/or participated in making this event a success,” said Sales. “I hope through continued support we will be able to serve even more kids next year. It is just like the motto says “A little change can make a big difference bridging the gap between cops and kids.”

Sales said he plans to get a jump start on next year’s event and maybe even hold some fundraisers throughout the year to help support the program.

“This is a good thing,” he said. “We really want to keep it going year after year and hope it just keeps getting better.”

To donate to next year’s “Shop with a Cop” contact Sales at (229)276-2926.




     DJJ's Janssen Robinson Honored by the Emanuel Project DJJ Staff  at:  12/22/2015  

DJJ's Janssen Robinson Honored by the Emanuel Project

As part of their 2nd Annual National Art Project, the Emanuel Project turned to a familiar face to the DJJ family to help highlight the best and brightest of youth art. Acting as one of five celebrity judges, Janssen Robinson of the Department of Juvenile Justice's Communications Team recently was honored for his participation in promoting youth artwork in juvenile facilities across the country.

Going above and beyond the call of duty, Janssen Robinson helped judge more than one hundred thirty youth art entries submitted from twenty-four facilities in thirteen states in America. Ranging from pencil drawings to water colors, the artwork submitted showcased a wide range of artistic mediums and helped bring needed attention to some very talented youth. Two of the national winners included youth from Georgia DJJ facilities in Cordele and Columbus.

The Emanuel Project is a visual arts program for at risk youth with current concentration on incarcerated youth. The project was initiated in response to the need to engage incarcerated youth between the ages of 12-21 in their curriculum, and to decrease behavioral incidents while increasing their self-esteem. The Emanuel Project takes a multi-dimensional approach to reaching incarcerated youth, through research based curriculum and instruction, incentive programs, art therapy and vocational programs. By utilizing the tools in each of these areas, students, instructors and facilities as a whole benefit.

Atlanta native Janssen Robinson has created a unique visual approach that he has developed over the past twenty years. Janssen's NOW paintings capture viewers with vibrant brush strokes that combine elements of impressionism, cubism, and abstraction. Currently, Janssen Robinson's work can be seen in such varied locations as on-screen (the Award Winning Selma movie), private and public collections (the Establishment in Buckhead, CeeLo Green, Tony Gonzalez, and Vince Dooley), and large scale community art projects such as the Arthur Blank Foundation funded Vine City Mural. Janssen's work can be seen online at

Congratulations again to Janssen Robinson and to all of the youth who participated in the National Art Project. For additonal details on the Emanuel Project, visit them online at





     Sharing is Caring in District Ten: Salvation Army Stocking Stuffing DJJ Staff  at:  12/22/2015  

Sharing is Caring in District Ten: Salvation Army Stocking Stuffing

Story support from District Ten Director Laura Pike

For this holiday season, the Thomas County Community Services Office (Thomas County CSO) provided an opportunity for local youth in the Department of Juvenile Justice system to receive community service credit by giving and sharing with others. Thomas County DJJ youth helped to collect toys and personal items that would be used to stuff holiday stockings for needy individuals. The theme for both the youth and the Thomas County CSO staff was "there is always someone less fortunate than we are who needs our help."

Lisa Owens, JPPS II; Shalonda Brinson, JPM; youth; youth; Janie Holton, JPPS III; John Young, JPPS I

After stuffing, stockings were delivered to the local Salvation Army for distribution to local area families. As part of their community service credit, some of the participating youth were able to help the Thomas CSO staff transport and deliver the stockings to the distribution center. Appreciative of the stockings, the Thomasville Salvation Army thanked both the youth and Thomas CSO staff for participating in this year's "Stuff a Stocking Project". The experience provided a great opportunity for DJJ staff to work hand in hand both with our youth and caring volunteers from the community.

Lisa Owens, JPPS II; youth; Laura S. Pike, District Director; youth; Janie Holton, JPPS III; John Young, JPPS I

The Department of Juvenile Justice would like to thank all participants in the "Stuff a Stocking Project". Among the many volunteers were Laura S. Pike, District Director/District 10 and Shalonda Brinson, JPM/Thomas CSO/HITs, Janie Holton, JPPS III/HITs, helped to spearhead this project. Learn more about the Thomasville Salvation Army at

Lisa Owens, JPPS II; John Young JPPS I and youth give to Salvation Army





     Operation Hope for the Holidays: Loftiss RYDC DJJ Staff  at:  12/22/2015  
Operation Hope for the Holidays: Loftiss RYDC

Operation Hope for the Holidays!, benefiting Toys for Tots and local domestic violence shelters across Georgia, is off to a roaring start thanks to the generosity of employees across Georgia. One of the most active facilities has been the Loftiss RYDC in Thomasville who has been been gathering toys and other materials for the Halcyon Home for Battered Women.

Operation Hope for the Holidays! provides an opportunity for all DJJ Employees to give back to those in the community who need it most this holiday season. The Halcyon Home for Battered Women is a non-profit, non-denominational charitable organization for battered women and their children whose mission is to provide safe shelter and support services for victims of domestic violence, their children, and survivors of sexual assault and promote community awareness and education to help prevent and break the cycle of violence; provide an environment of encouragement, compassion, and support for all those we service.

Recently, Ms. Laura Majors visited the Loftiss RYDC to pick up a large donation box filled for the Halcyon Home. DJJ would like to thank everyone who participated and donated to the Loftiss RYDC during Hope for the Holidays. For more information on the Halcyon Home, click on





     DJJ and The Vashti Center Holiday Stocking Campaign DJJ Staff  at:  12/22/2015  

DJJ and The Vashti Center Holiday Stocking Campaign

Story support from District Ten Director Laura Pike

This December, the District Ten Team at DJJ has gotten into the holiday spirit by providing and filling thirty-six stockings with toys and needed supplies to the youth of The Vashti Center. In Thomasville, The Vashti Center has been a valuable resource and partner with the Department of Juvenile Justice throughout the years, providing outstanding residential placement for committed youth.

Snookie Brown, Nicole Cromer, Vashti Administrative Director, Kathy Megahee, Family Connections Executive Director, Susan O’Neal, Vashti Development Director, Laura S. Pike, District Director, District 10, Stephanie White (Donations are on the Piano)

The Vashti Center provides mental health services to children and adolescents between the ages of 5-18 years. Children and adolescents face numerous challenges in their lives that impact their well-being and ability to succeed socially, behaviorally, and academically. The Room, Board, and Watchful Oversight Program is designed to provide a safe, nurturing environment seven days a week, 24 hours per day. High staff ratios and special programming in recreation, education, independent living skills, recreational skills, mentoring, and spiritual development are emphasized. Both males and females ages six to 17 may be admitted into the program. Vashti prefers to work with youth whose guardian is within a radius that permits their program involvement. While on campus, education is provided. The majority of Vashti youth receive educational services from Thomasville City Schools. Ralph Comerford is the CEO of Vashti and Susan O’Neal is the Development Director.

Women’s Forum and Vashti Participants (Donations are on the Piano)

DJJ District Ten Director Laura S. Pike donated the Christmas Stockings at the Women's Forum of Thomasville-Thomas County. Director Pike is a current Board member of Women’s Forum of Thomasville-Thomas County and has been active in this organization for many years. Women's Forum is a service oriented committee that offers college scholarship to female high school seniors, provides Christmas gifts to needy children, supports other community causes, and allows mentoring opportunities for females in Thomas County.

These gifts will bring smiles and lift spirits! Vashti's own Arlisha Wildgoose, RBWO Program Director, and Nicole Cromer, Administrative Director presented the program on December 8th and shared how children's lives are being transformed thanks to the support of community-minded organizations like Women's Forum.

The experience provided a great opportunity for DJJ staff to share some fun with other community members. DJJ staff members are committed to participating in Community Events that provide rewarding opportunities for our youth. For more information on The Vashti Center, visit

Luncheon Photo




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