Utah Department of Corrections

Fortitude Treatment Center crew volunteers at Peace Garden


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Twenty-five residents of the Fortitude Treatment Center joined forces with other volunteers Saturday morning to pull weeds in the International Peace Garden and along the Jordan River Trail.

It was hot, sweaty work. The crew kept at it for two hours and carried out a half-dozen black plastic garbage bags filled with weeds at the end. Lauren Cunico, volunteer coordinator with Salt Lake City's "Service in the City" program, and Carrie Cochran, center director, coordinated the service project.

The FTC facility, which helps struggling parolees get back on track, is located near the park. Staff are trying to encourage center residents to give back and do healthy things in their community, said Cochran, who also is deputy regional administrator for Adult Probation and Parole's Region 3.

Michael Hall, an FTC resident, said a morning spent in a  beautiful setting, working hard and doing something positive, beats time watching TV or playing cards at the center.

"We'd do this anytime," he said. "It's fun and we all have debts to society and we'd be happy to pay it. This is good fun."

Hall said he'd like to be involved in a regular volunteer group as a way to keep busy and focused on productive activity.

Salt Lake City Councilman Kyle LaMalfa, whose district includes the Peace Garden, joined the volunteers as they tackled Scotch thistle, bindweed and goathead weed — whose seeds have thorns that are the bane of bicyclists.

"I'm glad to see them putting into the community," LaMalfa said. "They're obviously hard workers and at the same time incredibly gracious about the way they care about the plants and care about being part of a team."

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