This issue of the Correctional Oasis is dedicated to wellness needs of correctional families, and we take this opportunity to make a proposal to correctional professionals across our nation.
On May 5, 1984, President Ronald Reagan signed Proclamation 5187 that designated the first week in May as National Correctional Officers Week, to honor correctional officers. We now celebrate this week as National Correctional Officer and Employee Appreciation Week.
For all of us who are familiar with corrections work in some capacity, it is relatively easy to note Correctional Officers’ and other correctional employees’ tenacity and bravery.
It is not as easy to note the tenacity and bravery of their family members, especially their spouses/domestic partners, who are the glue that holds the family together.
Given the vital, even critical, support provided to correctional staﬀ by their families on an ongoing basis, usually quietly and in the background, why not designate the first week of June as National Correctional Family Appreciation Week?
We hereby propose to formally recognize correctional families for their commitment, loyalty, courage, forgiving spirit, and tireless eﬀorts to keep their home life healthy and their family members together, both practically and relationally. Perhaps we could adjust the old adage to instead say, “Behind every successful correctional employee is a supportive family member.”
We want to acknowledge their faithful perseverance in the face of the toll that correctional work takes on their loved one, and, indirectly, on them, usually with very few tools at their disposal.
Correctional families aim to provide their correctional employee loved ones with a safe haven, a refuge, the place where they go to find peace, to relax, and be refreshed and renewed. Home is the primary place where correctional employees receive love, support, encouragement, and help.
Yet, as you know only too well, correctional families often make considerable sacrifices alongside their loved one who works in a correctional environment.
And with COVID-19 the last few years, and the extreme amounts of mandatory overtime with no end in sight, the sacrifices made by families on an ongoing basis have grown exponentially.
We have the staﬀ’s recognition/appreciation week in May. Military families get celebrated the whole month of November.
A week dedicated to correctional families is WAY OVERDUE.
Think of it as launching a grassroots “movement” to build support for this idea collectively, and then approach higher- level decision-makers about making this an officially recognized annual event.
That is why I urge us all to get on board with the celebration of National Correctional Family Appreciation Week. Let us not wait for a presidential proclamation. Let us choose to express our appreciation to correctional families NOW, in our hearts, in our homes, at the places where we work, and in our communities. Perhaps a presidential proclamation will follow later on. In the meantime, let us not keep correctional families waiting any longer for the belated recognition of their immense value and their untold sacrifices.
Some of you may also want to celebrate parents and other close family members who are part of your support system, and that is completely commendable.
So, what can you do to honor your family and correctional families nationwide during the National Correctional Family Appreciation Week?
Celebration of National Correctional Family Appreciation Week at HOME
In your personal life, a sincere, heartfelt THANK YOU to your significant others for supporting you and being there for you is a good start (accompanied by apologies where apologies are due).
Then figure out ways to speak to them in their “love language” by doing something with them and/or for them that you know they like. Spend focused time with them, one-on-one. Express your aﬀection physically, through touch and hugs. Do the one thing they’ve asked you repeatedly to do and which you’ve been putting oﬀ. Point out their strengths as a person, and the times they’ve been patient with you, trying their best to understand you or to give you space. Give them a little gift you know they’d enjoy having. Whatever you do, put a smile on their faces.
Post the celebration of the first National Correctional Family Appreciation Week on social media – Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, Twitter and use the hashtag #nationalcorrectionalfamilyappreciationweek.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know that you’re in! We will email you a flyer that you can share, and also a short video announcing this event, so you can continue to spread the word about the first National Correctional Family Appreciation Week!
Celebration of National Correctional Family Appreciation Week at WORK
In your professional life, spread the news about National Correctional Family Appreciation Week to coworkers, supervisors, administrators and union leaders. Then consider implementing some of the following ideas:
Administrators and supervisors, make a special announcement to that eﬀect at your facility.
- Ask staﬀ to submit anonymous statements of reasons why they are grateful for their families, and share these with your Maybe even print that list and send it home for the families to read.
- Prepare a letter of appreciation that staﬀ can take home and share with their significant others, including their children. We provide you with a sample letter here. (I believe that it is no exaggeration to say that some of your
staﬀ are still working at your agency because of their families’ rock-like support and encouragement, and their carrying the burdens and demands of home life to a large degree.)
- If at all possible, host a barbecue or another form of a Family Day, even if you have to schedule it