July 2019 Newsletter

My dear brothers and sisters in state service:

It has thus far been an exciting and uplifting tenure as President of ACCSS.

When I was elected President of ACCSS, my main goal was to find ways of ensuring our concerns and issues affecting the Chaplaincy continued to be addressed. Additional goals were to overhaul the website to be more streamlined and offer more resources, to be more open as an organization, and to ensure both that we have training, and that the training included material specific to the Chaplaincy.

There is still a lot of work necessary in achieving these goals, but as a whole, we have come a long way in accomplishing them:

• Since being elected, I have been appointed to the SRRC (Statewide Religious Review Committee), and I am a member of SACIR (State Advisory Committee on Institutional Religion). These two bodies offer great opportunities to address a lot of the issues and concerns that arise, and I implore you to reach out to us when we can be of help. This is in addition to the great relationships ACCSS has with the various stakeholders.

• While the website has been updated and is more streamlined, there is still a lot of work necessary to fully reach its potential, including adding resources. If you have any resources you think may help the Chaplaincy, please forward them to us for consideration.

• During my tenure, I have made it a point of being accessible and honest with you. I constantly ask for your input and suggestions and I plan to continue to do so. The members of the ACCSS board were elected to represent each of you – the Chaplaincy -. We are really in this together with the same objectives.

• The trainings in October and November were an overall success, and we are working on various proposals with the state. These things take time, and I ask you to bear with us as we work on them. On a personal note, I was especially happy to meet most of you during these trainings, and I immensely enjoyed participating in them. We are also grateful that once again there was training specific to the Chaplain’s needs.

Communication is of utmost importance, however. We cannot address any issues or concerns if we are unaware of them. There will also be times when it will not be possible for ACCSS to get involved. It cannot be stressed enough to reach out to us when issues or concerns arise so we have the opportunity to try to address them.

When I was elected, I had no idea how difficult the job would be. At the same time, I never thought it would be an easy job. And while the job has been difficult, it has also been uplifting and enjoyable. For that I thank every single one of you for the feedback you have provided me, the criticism (both constructive and other), and for believing in me. This is the only way for me (and ACCSS) to grow and become better.

Elections will be held in the fall for executive board members (President, Secretary and Treasurer). We are looking for any interested individuals (who are a good standing member of ACCSS) to submit their name for inclusion in the elections. If you would like more information, please reach out to us and let us know.

Thank you for your work as a Chaplain. It takes a special individual to answer the call, and the dedication and devotion necessary. You are all awesome!

Have a great and safe summer with an abundance of blessings and success.

Chaplain Benzion Lew
Calpatria State Prison