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Incarcerated Individuals Give the Governor’s Mansion a Holiday Facelift

December 21, 2022

By Brendan Baptiste

Department of Corrections

Incarcerated individuals join Secretary Cheryl Strange for a photo at the Gov. Mansion decorating event in Olympia, WA.

Incarcerated individuals join Secretary Cheryl Strange for a photo at the Gov. Mansion decorating event in Olympia, WA. (photo courtesy of DOC Communications Office)

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Govenor Jay Inslee and First Spouse Trudie Inslee were excited to see the holiday facelift at the Governor’s Mansion in Olympia, WA. Incarcerated women from Mission Creek Corrections Center for Women and Washington Corrections Center for Women visited to decorate for the annual holiday tour season. These talented women handmade many of the decorations that are now showcased at the entrance, staircase, windows and doorways of the mansion.

Since 2013, incarcerated woman enrolled in the floriculture and horticulture programs, sponsored by Tacoma Community College, have volunteered their time to decorate the mansion. Participants know that this tradition is a privilege, and they are proud to be a part of it. The holiday season can be tough for many who are incarcerated but showcasing their talents to bring smiles to the community is their way of spreading holiday cheer.

As horticulture students, incarcerated individuals will have earned college credit and developed hands-on skills in the gardening industry. They have learned plant production and even help to manage multiple greenhouses and gardens on the grounds of their respected facilities. Produce is then harvested and is incorporated into menu items at their prisons and some of the plants and flowers will be harvested for special occasions like holiday decorating.

This experience will also help improve their resumes, as many of the volunteers are reaching the end of their time served. Projects like these are a great way to show experience along with the degrees and certifications many are earning while incarcerated. Gaining knowledge through education and trade skills has shown to help ease the transition back into society while making it less likely for offenders to reoffend.

“The women that made this work happen, and the village behind them, just demonstrates to all Washingtonians how investments in people, including those incarcerated, can transform the world,” says Cheryl Strange, Secretary of the Department of Corrections. “I was so grateful to be invited to the mansion to see these incredible women in action and their amazing skill at turning the Governor’s Mansion, the people’s home, into a beautiful winter wonderland.”

If you would like to view the holiday decorations at the Governor’s Mansion, reservations for holiday tours are being accepted online. Morning and afternoon tours are offered, on a first-come, first-served basis. Each tour is open to 15 guests and lasts 30 minutes. For reservations, please visit the Department of Enterprise Services website to complete an online Mansion Tour request form. For questions or additional information, please contact the State Capitol Tour Office at (360) 902-8880 or email at (please put in subject line Gov. Mansion Tours).