Oregon Corrections Enterprises (OCE) Administrator Ken Jeske recently brought a tree into the OCE Administration office for staff to enjoy. When the office AIC worker Michael arrived for work, the two put up the tree and had quite the conversation. Ken asked Michael how long it had been since he put up and decorated a tree. We hope you enjoy his story:
“My name is Michael Buell and I am currently an AIC at Santiam Correctional Institution (SCI). Having the opportunity to work for OCE has been a tremendous blessing. It gives me a sense of normalcy and purpose everyday which is extremely important to me. For example… When I came into work the other day, I noticed they had brought in this Christmas tree that you see in the picture. They showed me where the decorations were and asked if I wanted to set it up and decorate it. After struggling with burnt out strands of lights for a couple hours I finally got it all done, and the finished product is what you see here.
It occurred to me while I was decorating the tree, that the last time I had done something like this was over three years ago with my two daughters and it definitely brought back a lot of memories for me. Moments like that are special and you cannot put a price on them.
Something as simple as decorating a Christmas tree helped remind me what’s important and why I’m working so hard to better myself every day. I started working for OCE at their Contact Center at Oregon State Prison (OSP) as a Sales Agent, and I worked there for a little over a year. I’ve currently been working at the OCE Administration Office for the past 6 months, and will soon begin training to be their Marketing and Sales Clerk. Being able to have a job like this while in prison means the world to me. It’s keeping my job skills polished so that I will be ready and have a smooth transition getting back to work upon my release.
Before I came to prison I spent about 9 years as an Operations and Sales Manager for a marketing firm, so being able to work at the Contact Center in a call center environment and now in an office setting every day is absolutely amazing. I have been able to apply and utilize my skill sets, strengths and past work experience while I have been incarcerated and that is something I never thought would be possible. When I come to work I am treated with kindness and respect, like one of the team. I want to thank OCE for all the opportunities they have given me, especially the ones that allow me to feel some normalcy, like decorating the Christmas tree.”