CMC CALPIA Incarcerated Workers Raise Funds for Hospice SLO County

On May 2, 2023, employees and incarcerated workers from the California Men’s Colony (CMC) California Prison Industry Authority (CALPIA) presented Hospice SLO County with a donation of $2,560. This fundraiser was donated to exclusively by the CMC CALPIA incarcerated workers.

Shannon McOuat, Executive Director of Hospice SLO County was able to attend the donation ceremony along with Hospice SLO County Board Member, Sara Bartlett. They filled out security clearance paperwork and cleared their schedules for 3 hours. While they both had been to CMC in the past, they did not know quite what to expect.

Each inmate had to donate at least $20 to attend the ceremony and get a photo taken with the 'giant check.' This is a lot of money when most inmates are making only $0.35-$1.00 an hour. 200 inmates donated to the fundraiser and at least 80 attended the ceremony.

Shannon smiled for almost 100 photos that day and shook just as many hands in appreciation! She reflected, “It was such a profound experience to participate in the ceremony and to be able to honor the incredible contribution the inmates made to our agency. It was a pleasure to witness their excitement and their pride in the fact that they were able to give back to the community. They celebrated one another and how they work together as teams at their job sites. I learned that most of them would not have associated with one another outside prison walls. I witnessed rehabilitation in action.”

Sara shared this about her experience that day, "Being able to accept the donation from the gentlemen at CMC was a true honor. Every dollar they raised was worth way more than its face value. For one, it takes much more time and effort to make money when in prison, so for them to part with their wages for our cause was very meaningful. Secondly, I was humbled by their stories of how they had loved ones die whom they couldn’t be with due to their incarceration, and how they hoped their donation could provide services for someone who was grieving, even though they couldn’t directly use the services themselves. Even within the confines of prison, they found a way to be of true service to others."

Photo (L to R): CALPIA Industrial Supervisor M. Mandella, Hospice SLO County Executive Director Shannon McOuat, CALPIA Worker P. Bhargava and Hospice SLO County Board Member Sara Bartlett.


Gerjuan Harmon, who works as a graphics technician in the CALPIA print shop, chose Hospice SLO County from the list of potential beneficiaries for this year’s CALPIA fundraiser. Harmon said his choice quickly became the unanimous choice once the workers and employees learned more about Hospice SLO County’s mission and philosophy regarding end-of-life transitions. Harmon created all the promotional materials for the fundraising campaign to encourage the incarcerated workers donations.

Prateek Bhargava, who works in the CALPIA fabric shop, said, “We are grateful for the platform that is being provided to us by CALPIA and CDCR. Most of us have an innate desire to do good, but to put it into practice requires commitment to do better.” Bhargava went on to say, “Life is precious, and the quality of life does not have to diminish just because we are old. Life is beautiful as it is lived with its challenges, but the end of life can also be tranquil and comforting.”

Over the past seven years, CMC CALPIA incarcerated workers have raised $17,762 to benefit a variety of charities. We are happy to share this unique fundraiser with the Hospice SLO County community.