Golden Hoosier award to local citizens

Westville Correctional Facility volunteers Richard and Susan Brooks receive their Golden Hoosier Award. From left are Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb, Richard Brooks, Susan Brooks and John Wernert, secretary of the Indiana Family & Social Services Administration.

Richard and Susan Brooks, of Michigan City, were honored with Indiana’s Golden Hoosier Award for their years of volunteer service to the inmates at Westville Correctional Center.

The award, which began in 2008, annually honors outstanding Hoosier senior citizens for their lifetime of service and commitment to their communities. The award is considered one of the highest honors given by the state to senior citizens, and is jointly determined by Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb and Indiana Family & Social Services Secretary John Wernert.

“Our prison volunteers provide an invaluable service in preparing inmates for their eventual return to our communities with an improved perspective on their behavior and its consequences," said Department of Correction Commissioner Bruce Lemmon.

Since 1982, the Brookses have traveled between WCC and their home as leaders for the Prison Fellowship ministry founded in 1976 by Chuck Colson, a former top aide to President Richard Nixon who pleaded guilty and served time in federal prison for his part in Watergate.

The Brookses volunteer their time and talents to minister to an average of 350 offenders per month as well as overseeing the program’s 35 to 40 volunteers. Over the past 34 years, that adds up to over 30,000 miles and over 100,000 offenders who have been impacted or inspired by their caring love and dedication.

“The Brookses' years of service has enabled us to offer extensive religious programming to our inmates that otherwise would simply not be possible," said WCC Superintendent Mark Sevier.

“The Hoosier values of service to our communities and helping our neighbors is well represented by this year’s honorees,” Holcomb said. “It is truly an honor to recognize this year’s Golden Hoosier recipients for the dedication they show their communities and for the tremendous example they set for future generations.”

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Annette is Porter County Community Coordinator for The Times. She has been with the paper for 20 years. A resident of Hobart, she graduated from Purdue University with degrees in English and German.