By Brent Thompson |Staff Writer|
The Catholic Newman club held a blood drive on May 31 in the Sycamore room to help raise money for “Get on the Bus.”
GOTB is a nonprofit organization which brings children and their guardians/ caregivers throughout the state of California to visit their mothers and fathers who are incarcerated in prison.
For each pint donated by students and faculty the Hemacare Corporation will donate $20 to GOTB.
“We’d like to get around 32 pints today. All the blood given will stay in Southern California but sometimes it will go to major catastrophes such as the recent tornadoes in the South and Midwest or the earthquake in Japan,” said Raquel Monterroso a registered RN who works for Hemacare.
Over 40 students donated blood, giving one pint each and raising $800 for GOTB. All of them had their own reasons for donating.
“I thought I was going to get paid $20, but I always wanted to donate blood and it’s a good cause,” said student Syntya Carrasco Bautista.
“The reason I came is that my teacher is giving us extra credit. I don’t have class today I came to campus just for this. But it’s not my first time giving blood on campus, I do it because I feel obligated to give back to others who need it. Also, you never know, those 10 points could come in handy at the end of the quarter,” said student Gerri Boyd.
Some came to provide moral support to those who were donating.
“I can’t give blood today because I gave some last week. I came here to support my girlfriend,” said student Micheal Rodriguez.
His girlfriend, Christina Araujo came to support the Newman Catholic club.
For some like Jamie Caston donating blood on campus is nothing new to them. “I usually donate when an organization such as the Red Cross is here on campus. This is probably my fifth time donating.”
“Get On the Bus has been asking us to help them out for a year now to help raise money for the organization,” said Catholic Newman member Rosalinda Fregoso.
“We did a teddy bear drive for them last month and collected $400 for them on Ash Wednesday. This is the first time we have held a blood drive.”
Each Mothers and Fathers Day GOTB rents buses to reunite hundreds of children with their incarcerated parents. While on the bus children are provided travel bags and caregivers are given comfort care bags for the journey to prisons such as Folsom, San Quentin or Valley State Prison for Women.
Parents and Children are given four hours to spend with each other to allow them to reconnect physically and emotionally. After the visitation each child is given a photo with his or her parents, a teddy bear with a letter from their parent and counseling.
GOTB is one of three programs supported by the Center for Restorative Justice Works which is a grass-roots organization whose mission, according to them, is to “create awareness about the negative impacts of incarceration on children and families, and advocate for programs and policies that restore relationships.”
There is an estimated 856,000 children who have parents currently incarcerated in the California prison system. Sixty percent of parents incarcerated in a state prison are located 100 miles or more away from their children.
The Federal Bureau of Justice Statistics estimated the 54 percent of mothers and 57 percent of fathers in state prisons reported never having a single visit from their children. Children who have no visitation with their parents have higher rates of delinquency and emotional problems.
“Sometimes parents make wrong decisions in life that their kids have to pay for. Children shouldn’t suffer for the actions and decisions that their parents have made, but hopefully the visits will motivate the parents to do better once they are out of prison and become more productive members in society, “ said Rosalinda Fregoso.