Inmates Bring Hope to Anchor of Hope Cemetery
June-August, 2011 - Retired Marine Donald Willey knows just where he wants to be laid to rest whenever the time comes. The problem is, unless he gets a lot of help pretty fast, the hoped-for burial ground will be under water before it comes time for his funeral.
Willey’s passion for restoring Anchor of Hope Cemetery on remote Hooper’s Island in Dorchester County was given a huge boost this summer by, of all people, Division of Correction (DOC) inmates. The Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services’ (DPSCS) Public Safety Works Coordinator John Rowley visited the small graveyard, and what followed were two one-day massive cleanups by inmates from the Poplar Hill Pre-release Unit near Salisbury. Result: the overgrown historic burial ground has been amazingly transformed.
Anchor of Hope is the final resting place of more than 150 men, women, and children, from War of 1812 stalwarts to slaves and freed slaves, from the founding family of Hooper’s Island to veterans of several wars. But the cemetery’s location on an island in the middle of the Chesapeake has left its very existence in peril. Erosion control is Mr. Willey’s main concern, and one that the DOC can’t immediately assist with.
But the DPSCS Public Safety Works initiative continues to explore ways to help preserve the historic cemetery. And the inmates’ impressive mowing and cleanup has left one ex-Marine thankful---and shocked at the help he received from, of all places, the Maryland DOC.
On any given day, more than 300 low-security State inmates are working in communities all over Maryland, performing truly meaningful projects for state and local government agencies and non-profits. For more information on how inmate labor efforts can help your cause, contact John Rowley at 301-729-7690 or the Communications Office of the Maryland DPSCS at 410 339-5065.