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2019-2020 Governor’s Criminal Justice Volunteer Service Awards

Houston-Based Cancer Support Group Receives Governor’s Criminal Justice Volunteer Service Award

(AUSTIN) –Cancer Support Group of Houston, Texas was presented the Susan Cranford Award during the Governor’s 2020-2021 Criminal Justice Volunteer Service Awards program today. The award is given to an individual or organization that has shown a desire to improve criminal justice programs for females.

The award was presented by Texas Board of Criminal Justice Chairman Patrick O’Daniel and TDCJ Executive Director Bryan Collier during an online ceremony. Accepting the award was Ms. Nadien Eidman with Cancer Support Group.

“These volunteers give their time and talents to help others throughout Texas,” said O’Daniel. “They selflessly serve because they feel a responsibility to help others.”

“These volunteers dedicate themselves daily to helping others succeed,” said Collier. “In the coming years, the scope of the precious time and effort that they invested will be evident across the State of Texas.”

In 2014, an inmate at the Carole Young Medical Facility was diagnosed with breast cancer. Alone, incarcerated, fearful and with little knowledge of her diagnosis, she realized that she could benefit from a cancer support group along with others who would find comfort and value in participating in a Christ-centric group. A weekly Cancer Support Group was formed and it continues to be a place where confidentiality, trust, kindness, encouragement and spiritual growth remain central. Each meeting begins with a prayer although all denominations are welcomed and respected. The group offers their experiences with cancer to help make sense of what the female inmates are facing. Attendees are encouraged to ask questions, deal with treatment side effects and provide a safe environment where they can be heard, loved and understood. During the pandemic, the Cancer Support Group has provided seeds and plants for the Carole Young Medical Unit herb garden by donating tomato, garlic, onion, German thyme, oregano, lemon balm, rosemary, zucchini and squash plants. They also continued supporting the inmates by sending healing scriptures and prayers, as well as donating eight four-foot Christmas trees to the facility during the holiday season.

The Susan Cranford Award is named as a tribute to Susan Cranford who passed away in March 2007 after a long and courageous battle with cancer. She was a former Windham School District and TDCJ employee for over 28 years, many of them as the Warden at the Gatesville Unit. She also served as Assistant Director of the State Jail Division and the Director of the Private Facilities Division. Her innovative thinking and relentless desire to improve criminal justice programs for females gained her a well-deserved national reputation as an expert on women’s issues in the field of corrections, from both staff and offender perspectives.

Cancer Support Group is one of 6 organizations and 16 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 the lives of convicted offenders and aiding and comforting their victims.

In FY2020, there were 19,589 volunteers who served a total of 220,502 volunteer hours.

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.