MARIETTA RYDC: FILL THE SHOE BOX CAMPAIGN
On Mother's Day, the Marietta Regional Youth Detention Center (Marietta RYDC) sponsored the "Fill the Shoe Box Campaign" where the youth and staff of the facility decorates shoe boxes filled with donated and bought hygiene items for local area homeless women. With distribution help from the Cobb County United Way, the event was a huge success and helped out a large number of people.
Cobb/Cherokee Case Expeditor Leah Free was a proud participant in the "Fill the Shoe Box Campaign". Below is her story of how the Marietta RYDC became involved in this great project.
Introducing, Leah Free, Marietta RYDC “Department of One”
As an expeditor, I am a part of the community side of DJJ. I spend the majority of my time in the Cobb Juvenile Courthouse but, when I’m not in court, I’m inside the Marietta RYDC intake area. As a result, I don't work in an office or have the opportunity to attend typical staff meetings or office functions. Despite this, I am the social butterfly that loves to be around people so the Marietta RYDC includes me in their luncheons, PBIS events, and other team exercises. I am very appreciative of the RYDC’s efforts to include me as part of their family.
The other day, I went into my email and found notification for an event called the “Fill the Shoe Box Campaign.” The job for staff and youth was to decorate shoe boxes and fill them with women’s hygiene products to be donated to the Cobb United Way Woman’s Homeless Shelter for delivery during Mother’s Day.
Community members from Cobb County and beyond participated in the "Fill the Shoe Box Campaign"
Marietta RYDC organized a competition among its departments for this campaign; the unit that collected the most donations would be awarded a pizza lunch. Well, each department has over five people, some with more than ten. Last on the list was the “department of one”.. the loner.. the cheese that stands alone: Office of Case Expeditor.. me.. Leah Free.
From the beginning, I thought there was no way I could win this competition for donations. I was competing with the security department and all its JCO’s; and the mental health unit with its many staff members. I immediately started thinking about ways around the rules with divisions, percentages, and the like. But then, I really started concentrating outside the wire. My department is technically just one person, myself, but I work on the community side. My department IS the community: Cherokee and Cobb CSO, Cobb Independent Court; service providers; Judges; and members of the public. So, with that in my head, I went on a mission to not only help the homeless women of the community but to also win the competition.
Some of the shoe boxes filled with collected items
In order to win, I needed to reach out to MY community. By bringing community service inside the Marietta RYDC, I was able to let them know what the unit was doing and how our kids were involved in decorating these boxes. Immediately, the donations started rolling in. Friends, family, and service providers who help our Cobb kids show the Facility staff what the community is all about. By the end of a couple weeks of incoming donations, my shoe box became a GIANT tub of donated items from MY “loner” Office of Case Expeditor.
It was such a great feeling to know the community can rally together so well to support important facility causes. The public realizes these young offenders are not here forever, and that someday they will reenter their communities, so to bring that connection inside the facility was just awesome! It can be the little things that count most with these youth, especially when some have spent time in homeless shelters with their parents, or have taken things from the community that are not theirs. For people to offer their support to DJJ through community service really makes a difference to many of these kids. It provides the transition and connection to the streets of Cobb County that many kids so desperately need.
I was surprised to see my “Office of One” become the “Office of Won”. While it was a friendly competition of Community-versus-Facility, the fact that we came together for one cause and displayed such great team work was truly an amazing experience. The pizza dinner award will be shared with the newly named Office of Community and Secure Facilities: Marietta Regional Youth Detention Center.
The Marietta RYDC staff during the "Fill the Shoe Box Campaign"