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2019-2020 Governor’s Criminal Justice Volunteer Service Awards

Victoria Woman Receives Governor’s Criminal Justice Volunteer Service Award

(AUSTIN) – Paula Padgett of Victoria, Texas was presented the Nancy Hees Award during the Governor’s 2020-2021 Criminal Justice Volunteer Service Awards program today.

The award was presented by Texas Board of Criminal Justice Chairman Patrick O’Daniel and TDCJ Executive Director Bryan Collier during an online ceremony.

“These volunteers give their time and talents to help others throughout Texas,” said O’Daniel. “They selflessly serve because they feel a responsibility to help others.”

“These volunteers dedicate themselves daily to helping others succeed,” said Collier. “In the coming years, the scope of the precious time and effort that they invested will be evident across the State of Texas.”

The award is named in recognition of Nancy Hees who passed away in February 2005 after a courageous battle with cancer.  Nancy, a TDCJ employee at the time of her death, worked in the Parole Division admirably for more than 14 years. Her dynamic character and devotion to helping others positively influenced the lives of many parolees and their families. Her heartfelt compassion and generosity built a bridge of communication between parolees and the agency’s administration and established the Division’s Ombudsman’s Office as a reliable information resource for offender families.

Ms. Padgett has been a volunteer facilitator for Celebrate Recovery since April 2019. She attended the Celebrate Recovery classes at the Victoria District Parole office shortly after her release in November 2009. The classes are a faith-based 12-step recovery program for anyone struggling with hurt, pain or addiction of any kind. She says the group helped her maintain her sobriety and when she was discharged she continued attending the classes. When the facilitator of the classes she was attending retired after 20 years, he asked Ms. Padgett to take over. She now conducts the classes every Monday from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., even during the pandemic. She shares her story about addiction with the hopes to inspire others to be successful and understand that they can also overcome struggles with hard work. She has been a positive role model to the clients on supervision at the Victoria District Parole office.

Ms. Padgett is one of 16 individuals and 6 organizations from across the state recognized for their efforts to help inmates and those who are on parole or probation. They donate many hours of their personal time every year with the goal of changing the lives of convicted offenders and aiding and comforting their victims.

In FY2020, there were 19,589 volunteers who served a total of 220,502 hours of service.

Note to media: For more information, contact Jeremy Desel, TDCJ Director of Communications, at (936) 437-6052 or by e-mail at