Toastmasters

The second annual Henderson Aristocrats Gavel Club Awards Banquet was an all-day event for a group of dedicated offenders at Management and Training Corporation’s Bradshaw State Jail. 

Toastmasters International, and their affiliate Gavel Clubs, have made their way into area correctional facilities and the benefit to the participating offenders is apparent. Toastmasters’ vision is to empower people to achieve their full potential and realize their dreams. Through their clubs, people around the world can improve their communication and leadership skills and find the courage to change and improve the world around them. 

In a place where dreams are few, the opportunity to rearrange your vision of the future is a welcome and often necessary change. 

Mayor ‘Buzz’ Fullen made an appearance and proclaimed February 28 to be Toastmasters day. District attorney, Michael Jimerson, and Henderson Police Department Lt. Brian Bathke addressed the group of participants, as did Sean Jackson, Henderson Rotary Club President, and manager of Wal-Mart. 

Jackson addressed the importance of taking advantage of the opportunities made available in any situation. “One of the most important steps I took as a young man was to apply for a $1,000 Rotary Club scholarship, which I was awarded, and that started a whole series of positive developments in my life and lead to a fruitful career in WalMart,” said Jackson of his own utilization of opportunity. 

Club mentor, Don Everly Smith also addressed the club as well as visitors. Explaining the value of the program Smith said, “The servant leader model drives everything we do here in this speaking club. This is the only program in Bradshaw that is not a class or a program but is actually a membership club where the members set the agenda and run the club meetings.”

This program model gives the participants the leeway to make leadership decisions and the chance to plan events and create educational opportunities for its members. 

Previous participants of the Toastmaster’s have left the Bradshaw facility and used the skills they learned to move on to much brighter futures. One in particular has returned to his hometown and is in the process of starting a “full-way house” where he can help more recently released men continue living the principles they learned and become productive members of society. 

Of the day’s events, Brian Bathke, HPD’s Capt. of Support Services, said, “This event was the most insightful, positive view I’ve ever had of a prison facility. This program is the most impressive re-entry tool I’ve witnessed and I’m grateful for the invitation and the chance to participate.” 

With two speaking clubs at Bradshaw and one at Billy Moore Correctional Center in Overton, the need for volunteers to facilitate these programs is ongoing. Anyone interested in contributing their time to any of the volunteer services can contact Billy Moore’s Chaplain at 903-834-6186 for information on available opportunities. 

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