Correction News

September 2000

Officer Travels Around The World With The National Guard

By Pamela Walker

Correctional Officer Bobbie Joe Williams recently returned from the country Moldova, where she helped build a medical clinic for orphans. It was one of the many trips sheís made while serving as carpentry specialist with the 505th Engineer Battalion of the N.C. National Guard based in Newton.

"It was wonderful," said Williams. "The children were so happy, even though they had so very little." Williams added that most of the children didnít even have shoes and some of the children had to share their play clothes with the other orphans.

In 1990, Moldova, which is in Europe between Romania and Ukraine, declared independence from the former soviet union and, like many former Communist countries, is in a state of economic ruin. The country has a long history of foreign domination. Hundreds of people were killed in 1992 when Moldovan forces clashed with separatists demanding independence for Dnestr. A number of children lost their parents in battle or their parents could not financially care for them so they wound up in the orphanage. The Straseni Orphanage provides shelter, medical care and education to more than 640 children ranging in age from infants to teenagers.

Officer Williams with children in Moldova
Officer Bobbie Joe Williams, Lincoln Correctional Center, takes time out from her National Guard training in the Republic of Moldova to paint the faces of some orphans.

The childrenís strife really affected Williams, who is married and the mother of two. "I would have brought every child back home with me, if I could," said Williams. She already has her hands full though. Being a mother, working full-time at Lincoln Correctional Center, being a member of the National Guard and a unit training coordinator for Waffle House is more than a lot of people could handle.

"Itís tough, but I have always worked two jobs," said Williams. "Iíve just learned that spending more quality time with my children is more important than just quantity." She says she can function on just four hours of sleep, even if itís two hours here and another two hours at another time. So why is she working so hard? Williams says her and her husband have paid off some land and they have plans to build a house.

Williams has been an officer at Lincoln for a year and a half and hopes to stay long enough to retire. She has been with the National Guard for 12 years. "I joined (the National Guard) out of spite," said Williams. She said her father told her he didnít think she could do it because there were so few women in the army at the time, but she wanted to prove she could. "Iíve learned a lot and I know thereís nothing I canít do."

In addition to Moldova, Williams has also been deployed to Ecuador where she helped with the building of two daycares and a school and she also helped with building a fence along the California-Mexico border. "I like to travel. I get to meet people and I have fun," said Williams.

Williams is just one of many Department employees who serve citizens not only in their full-time jobs, but also part-time as part of the National Guard or Army Reserves. Reservists report for drill one weekend a month, are on active duty two weeks a year for training and are also sometimes activated for hurricane duty.

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