Community Choir Brings Volunteers And Inmates Together - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Community Choir Brings Volunteers And Inmates Together

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Bringing people of all different life experiences together through the power of music. Inmates at the Mount Pleasant Correctional Facility and outside volunteers have formed a community choir to do just that. 

"Most of us want to overcome that and become a better person," Inmate Cody Anderson says of his fellow choir members. 

Anderson has been in prison since 2007. He's serving a 15 year sentence on multiple charges from burglary to sex abuse. 

"Over the years you just start, especially if you don't have outside family or support or anything, you start feeling bad about yourself," he says, "It's kind of like a hopeless situation."   

But Anderson says singing with this group every Monday helps keep him and others moving forward. 

"It's really an encouragement because after you've been down for so long, you start thinking that people on the outside don't care," Anderson says. 

"It's the time they take out of their lives to come in and show that they care for people that are otherwise undeserving of being cared for," he says. 

The choir brings about 40 inmates and six volunteers together to sing in prison each week, coming together to share more than just music.  

"I do think a lot of perceptions have changed, even with myself and with the other singers, but probably more with the people we talk to," Choir Director Heather Herschberger says.

But looking around the room, volunteers are few and far between. 

"There is a conception on the part of the public that the people that are in prison are basically bad people," Inmate Perry Miller says. 

Most of the inmates here are in a transitional program for sex offenders and drug abusers. 

"They wish they could turn back time and not act in the first place," Anderson says. 

"I don't want to be judged ultimately by my crime," Miller says, "I want to be judged on the sum total I am as a person; my singing is part of that." 

But by getting more outsiders involved, they're hoping to break down stereotypes and build understanding for the future. 

"These bridges can be built now, and I think it makes an inmate much less likely to come back to prison if he has those ties already built into the community," Miller says. 

The choir will be performing at their first concert tomorrow afternoon for fellow inmates and visitors.

If you are interested in joining or donating sheet music and other materials, contact the Mount Pleasant Correctional Facility at 319-385-9511.

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