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Posted 26 Mar 2001   For week ended March 23, 2001
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Sent on Mormon-News: 19Mar01

By Rosemary Pollock

Mormon Inmate Gets Companions Serving Thru Sewing

WARTBURG, TENNESSEE -- For the past six months the inmates of the Brushy Mountain Correctional Complex have been spending their Saturdays in the library at the Morgan County Regional Site. "I wish I could do this more than one Saturday a month," said Antonio Williams, 27.

"It is nice to get a group of guys to come in here and have their minds in the right place." Aubrey "Shawn" Bettis leans forward to inspect his work as he ties the thread into a knot and cuts the extra piece of thread with a fingernail clipper. "This blanket had to come back because I didn't properly tuck in the batting so that when the final seams are sewn, nothing sticks out," Bettis said. "Sometimes it pops out."

Thanks to Owan Hughes, an inmate at Brushy Mountain and member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, eight to 10 quilts are completed by the inmates each month and delivered to children in cancer wards at East Tennessee Children's Hospital, the Florence Crittenton Home, Project Linus and Omni Visions Inc. a child welfare agency.

Hughes contacted his leaders at the Knoxville Cumberland Stake and expressed a desire to sponsor a service club at Brushy Mountain. After wading through the red tape with the help of Chaplain Dean Yancey and Warden David Mills, Hughes was able to move ahead.

"Great church people were willing to dedicate their time to promote it," Hughes said. "Like a cake, there are many ingredients and to make this group come about, I was only one ingredient. I came up with the idea, and there were many who contributed to make this happen."

Members from the Knoxville Cumberland Stake have volunteered their time and provided precut fabric, batting and supplies for the quilts. The women from Cumberland finish the blanket edges and apply a tag to each quilt that reads: "Made by inmates at Brushy Mt. Corrections, Morgan Site" along with their address. Weekly worship services have been held at the minimum and medium-security facility under the direction of Knoxville Cumberland Stake President Richard Riggs.

"Through my being in Scouts growing up, I had an appreciation for service, and service brings rewards, i.e. satisfaction and the warm, fuzzy feeling you have inside when you help others," Hughes said. "That is something you don't have too often here."

Inmate Cory Simmons said, "I think there are a lot of guys who feel bad for what they've done and look for a way to repay the community and others." "They are making the best of a challenging situation. I won't say 'bad situation' because, though being sent here was one of the most devastating things in my life, I try to focus my time here not only on repaying but rebuilding. I want to come out as a changed person."


Reap what you Sew
Knoxville TN News-Sentinel 17Mar01 P2
By Jeannine F. Hunter: News-Sentinel religion writer
Morgan County inmates make quilts for sick children


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