Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

November 30, 2012

Offenders help the homeless

By Brenda L. Holmes

PLAINFIELD — Offenders from the Plainfield Correctional Facility worked into the wee hours of the morning Thanksgiving Day to help provide a meal to the homeless. This is the third year the facility has been in charge of making the stuffing for the Mozel Sanders Foundation Thanksgiving meal.

Ben Grosvenor, food service director for the facility, works with offenders who volunteered their time to help prepare the stuffing.

"They all get excited because they are contributing," Grosvenor said. "I actually had 30 guys volunteer but chose 13 for the job."

The offenders were chosen from men enrolled in the PLUS program or the In2Work program.

"These are time-cut programs," Grosvenor said. "When they complete the program they get six months cut off their time."

The offenders prepared 50,000 servings of stuffing for the meal. They cooked 12 kettles of stuffing that hold 100 gallons each. The stuffing was then transferred into pans and baked in the facility's new oven.

"We added this new oven in October," Grosvenor said. "It was $35,000 and the racks can just roll into the oven."

This was the second year Aaron Boyer was chosen to help cook and bake the stuffing. He said it's nice to help the community when the chance is given.

"I started in culinary arts at the New Castle facility," he said. "When I came here I finished up."

His job within the facility is to help prepare food for offenders with special diets.

"We have all kinds of diets," Boyer said. "We have diabetic diets, renal diets, vegans, and allergies. We have all of it here."

Boyer is a graduate of the In2Work program and will be released after serving his time before the end of the year.

"You know I am facing leaving here and going to a homeless shelter," he said. "So I know this meal will be appreciated. And I'm happy to help."

Phil Slavens, assistant superintendent of re-entry, said the annual stuffing project is just one more way offenders at the facility can give back to the community.

"And I actually knew Rev. Sanders," Slavens said. "He used to come here to see the kids from his flock Ñ his congregation. He was the nicest person."

In 1959 Rev. Dr. Mozel Sanders was appointed as pastor of Mt. Vernon Missionary Baptist Church in Indianapolis. He worked diligently to provide his congregation and the surrounding community with their needs.

Sanders received statewide recognition and awards for his work. He was best known for feeding families in need and creating the Mozel Sanders Thanksgiving Dinner.

After his death in 1988, his son, Rev. Roosevelt Sanders, created the Mozel Sanders Foundation to continue the work of its name-sake.

The stuffing was picked up from the facility at 4:15 a.m., still warm from the ovens. It was transported to Ball State University where countless volunteers prepared the rest of the meal.

The food was then distributed to more than 40 satellite sights in and around Indianapolis.