Exchange Club installs new officers
Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 17, 2006
The Exchange Club of Greenville recently installed a new roster of officers for the 2006-2007 year. Howard Tinsley, the current district director and incoming president-elect for the state organization, traveled from Selma to serve as installing officer during a dinner meeting at Shoney's.
Tinsley reminded the new officers, “The future is entrusted to your care…in building a better community, state and nation.”
Wallace Newton was installed as the new club president; Wayne Roper, as president-elect; Abbie Jackson, past president, and Scottie Roper, secretary-treasurer. The remaining club members will serve on the organization's board. Incoming District Director Judy Friday was also present for the installation service.
Dr. David Thompson, a psychologist with Public Health Services, spoke to the Exchangites following the installation ceremony.
Thompson, who supervises the drug rehabilitation program at the Federal Prison Camp at Maxwell AFB in Montgomery, shared both the negative impact addictions and addicts' subsequent imprisonment has on these individuals and society, and the positive impact citizenry can have on those who fall victim to addiction.
“It impacts the addicts themselves – their health, jobs, families, all lost. And believe me, while this prison camp is a better place to be than many other places -it's still prison. You can't go where you want to, wear what you want to, go to bed when you want to…it's not a great place to be,” Thompson said.
Inmates at the prison camp who qualify for the voluntary drug program spend half a day doing labor on the grounds of Maxwell AFB, and half a day in the treatment program, which requires nine months/500 hours of participation. Up to 150 inmates can participate in the program at any one time in a prison population of 1,000.
Imprisonment can create a tremendous burden on the families left behind, Thompson said.
“In some cases, both mother and father go to prison, and grandparents have to start all over again raising children. For the children, there's the stigma of a parent in prison, and the economic suffering,” Thompson said.
“Addiction places a burden on the healthcare system – a lot of the accidents, assaults and murders are drug-related – it means tremendous costs to the taxpayers.”
Thompson shared ways community-minded individuals and groups can help those imprisoned and battling drug addiction.
“First of all, pray for them – it's one of the most powerful things we can do, don't underestimate it. And visit them
– they can truly feel forgotten by society. Volunteer – we have many opportunities in our educational and chaplain departments,” the psychologist said.
Thompson also encouraged his listeners to consider helping the families of those behind bars, and to think of ways to help addicts once they regain their freedom.
“Addiction is a real spiritual battle for a lot of people…sometimes it's a long haul and a hard row to hoe. Coming out of prison is tough enough – the stigma attached to being an ex-con, the lack of resources.”
Thompson said changes in the prison system, especially in preparing inmates for re-entry into society, could prove invaluable.
“If you are looking for a way to help the community, helping an addict or helping his family would be a great way to go…pick a piece of the problem, and do what you can do.”