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2019 Governor’s Criminal Justice Volunteer Service Awards

Kingwood Organization Receives Governor's Criminal Justice Volunteer Service Award

Members of the Bright and Beautiful Therapy Dogs Program pictured with TBCJ Chairman Dale Wainwright, Texas State Representative James White, and TDCJ Executive Director Bryan Collier.

(AUSTIN) – Bright and Beautiful Therapy Dogs (Houston chapter) was presented with the “Most Innovative Program” award during the Governor’s 2019 Criminal Justice Volunteer Service Award program today.   

The award was presented by Texas Board of Criminal Justice Chairman Dale Wainwright and TDCJ Executive Director Bryan Collier during a ceremony held in Austin.

“Volunteering is a responsibility that these recipients have embraced wholeheartedly and for that we are extremely grateful,” said Wainwright.

“These volunteers dedicate themselves each day to helping others succeed,” said Collier. “For many years to come, the impact of that invaluable time and effort invested will be felt across the state of Texas.”

Ms. Joan Lawrence, Director of the Houston chapter of the Bright and Beautiful Therapy Dogs program, was contacted in November 2015 by a representative of the Pet Therapy program for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice on behalf of Warden Alphonso James at the Jester IV Unit and Ed Owens, Program Manager with the University of Texas Medical Branch. They were interested in starting a pet therapy program for the offenders at the Jester IV Unit in Richmond. The first visit was in December 2015 and each has been successful since that time. Ms. Lawrence says “Our visits with the offenders are most rewarding and our members all agree that it’s one of our favorite visits.”

Bright and Beautiful Therapy Dogs (Houston chapter) is one of 6 organizations and 17 individuals from across the state recognized for their efforts to help inmates and those who are on parole or probation. They donate many hours of their personal time every year with the goal of changing lives of convicted offenders, and aiding and comforting their victims.

In FY2018, there were 21,728 volunteers who provided a total of 399,705 hours of service.

Note to media: For more information, contact Jeremy Desel, TDCJ Director of Communications, at 936-437-6052 or by e-mail at jeremy.desel@tdcj.texas.gov – For high resolution photos of award recipients, contact Jeff Linderman at jeff.linderman@tdcj.texas.gov.