But a month ago, Mell suffered a stroke and subsequent seizure that threatened to stop him from completing his work. Doctors told him he would not be able to use a manual wheelchair, or transfer from a chair to a driver's seat, any longer without risking the total loss of his arm movement. He got a powered chair, then discovered that he had no way to transport it, and himself, to and from the jail sites he worked at!
Almost immediately, co-workers, friends, family and graduates of JASA pulled together the Mell Williams Jr., Van Fundraising Committee to help raise funds to buy a van equipped to allow him to drive right up to the steering wheel. With prices up to $65,000.00, this was not within Mell's financial reach. Car washes, hot dog sales, Scentsy candle sales, a gas card raffle and award dinner were organized to help raise the money needed.
Both the Polk and Highlands County Sheriff's Offices jumped on the bandwagon right away, helping with ticket sales, donations and attendance at the award dinner held in Mell's honor. There, he was presented with a Deputy badge and honorary deputation by the Polk County Sheriff's office, an honor he was extremely pleased to receive.
All funds raised that night, and ongoing fundraising efforts, will assist Mell in purchasing and converting his van, and continuing his great work helping others recover their sobriety, sanity, family and self-respect. There is no greater reward than that for Mell Willimas, Jr.
If you would like to learn more about Mell, his work, or make a donation to the fund, go to www.tchsonline.com.
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The Jail Alternative to Substance Abuse (Jasa) Program has been in existance in Polk and Highlands for over four years. This award winning, science-based therapy and treatment program has graduated over 8,000 men and women, with a recidivism rate of only 28%.