Desert Life: Nevada Incarcerated Chapters
BY TERRY HUBERT
Of Rocks and Zephyrs: A Guide's Notes
I was delighted to guide staff
from The VVA Veteran through the Nevada State Prison and the
Northern Nevada Correctional Center, preceded by a drive around
Lake Tahoe. Always spectacular, in late spring the snowy peaks
surrounding Tahoe accentuate the view and reflect in the water.
The tour and visits with the VVA
Incarcerated Chapters in Carson City, however, were the
highlight for myself and for the members and associates of
Chapters 545 and 719. The members of Chapter 545 at the historic
Nevada State Prison were thrilled to have VVA staff walk their
yard. Visitors are a rare enough treat for the chapter, but the
chance to wander around and show off their gardens, paintings,
handicrafts, and koi ponds and to interact with the VVA folks
will be talked about for a long time.
Likewise, the walking tour of the
Northern Nevada Correctional Center the following day with
Chapter 719 and staff also was memorable. Validation and
recognition mean so much more for those behind bars and fences.
Vietnam Veterans of America and
its associates constitute a viable and growing social
organization within the Nevada Department of Corrections. In
addition to Chapters 545 and 719, there are two active chapters
in the Las Vegas area and another active chapter at the Lovelock
Correctional Center, east of Reno. All these chapters work
closely with local VVA chapters and the Nevada State Council.
The incarcerated chapters are proud of their accomplishments and
their ability to improve their own lives and the lives of the
other prisoners in the general population. These chapters have
taken to heart the VVA motto, “In Service to America.”
Chapters 719 and 545 will share a
vendor’s table at the National Convention in Reno. They will
provide information about their organizations and
accomplishments. Additionally, hobbycraft items, shirts, and
rock art will be offered for sale. Supporters from Stead
Elementary School and other volunteers will man the table.
But all this good news is
tempered by the passing on May 26 of Robert Farrar, the original
staff sponsor of NSP Chapter 545. The chapter lost a good
friend, confidant, and mentor. A former Army captain, a Korean
War veteran, and a trailblazer, Bob guided the chapter with
meager resources and often under careful custodial scrutiny and
staff suspicions. Bob carefully nurtured the chapter, enabling
it to flourish and to develop prison programs that addressed the
needs of the prisoners.
The Chapter 545 yard
beautification project is ongoing; the image of Ole Max is
changed forever. Bob’s retirement left a void—almost an
abyss—that I stepped into. But I could not have succeeded
without his perseverance and dedication in the face of an often
reluctant and suspicious administration and staff.