Vic Soares, a volunteer with the Diocese of Beaumont’s Criminal Justice Ministry, was surprised when the Federal Correctional Complex Beaumont, Low Unit named him as Volunteer of the Year at its annual volunteer appreciation dinner April 19.
“I don’t volunteer for awards,” Soares said about his work at the low-security unit. “I volunteer for service. My volunteer work and helping out is my reward.”
Soares teaches a Catholic apologetics class at the prison unit once a week. He’s only been teaching it for about two years. But his effect on the inmates has been immediate and compassionate.
“He’s willing to love them unconditionally no matter what they’ve done,” said fellow Criminal Justice Ministry volunteer Ramon Lopez. “He doesn’t judge them. He’s there for one purpose: their souls, their salvation.”
Lopez, who teaches Catholic apologetics at the state Mark W. Stiles unit, said it takes patience and persistence to work in a prison because of all the unknowns. And no matter what challenges Soares faces in trying to work with inmates, whether it’s lockdowns or things don’t happen on time, he remains dedicated to showing up every week.
“He doesn’t give up,” Lopez said. “That defines him. I’m happy to see him get that award.”