This post highlights the work that Terry Hamilton does for the Colorado Department of Corrections. Are you a public employee with a story to tell? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Hometown: Buena Vista
Current residence: Canon City
Employer: Colorado Department of Corrections
Title: Administrative Services Manager
What he does every day: Works as a manager in administrative services, handling legal issues of offenders within DOC.
Length of time in PERA: 23 years
Best part of the day at work: Mentoring staff with positive encouragement
Best part of any day not at work: Time with family and friends
“Growing up in Buena Vista, the last thing I would have thought I would ever do was go to work in a prison.”
When Terry Hamilton had a young family and was starting his career, he wanted to make his own way. He had grown up near the middle of Colorado in Buena Vista, a small town with one stoplight at the base of the Collegiate Peaks.
Even though the nearby prison provided a good career opportunity, Terry wasn’t interested in such a path. Instead, he worked at the Climax mine like many people in the Buena Vista area. As the mine fell on hard times and a layoff was inevitable, Terry and his family moved to Denver and headed in a different direction.
He changed gears with a new career in the grocery industry with Associated Grocers of Colorado, but they too went bankrupt in the 80s. He then went to work for Super Valu, which took him on the road around Colorado and to several other states.
But when he began missing his kids’ school events, sports practices, and milestones in the lives of his family, he realized the lifestyle his career demanded and near constant work travel meant sacrificing what was really important; job security, time with his family and a career with meaning. Terry needed a job with good pay, good benefits, and hopefully only eight hours a day.
Terry buckled down for a year, fitting in an extra year of school while working full time on the road in order to become eligible to work for the Colorado Department of Corrections. He started in June of 1990, and will have 24 years of experience with the department next summer.
With the Department of Corrections, Terry was able to achieve his personal goals and begin building a rewarding career. His career began as an officer and he’s had the chance to develop a wide range of skills depending on the responsibilities of different positions.
“Within DOC, I’ve never held the same job in the same place for more than a few years,” Terry noted. “There are always opportunities to find new challenges if you are interested and willing to try something different.”
Careers in corrections are defined by professionalism and a strong work ethic, a good day’s work for an honest day’s pay, as well as a profound sense of responsibility to co-workers, communities and taxpayers.
Terry has coached 26 different seasons of youth sports, with basketball in the winter, soccer in the spring and baseball in the summer. He has been active with local school PTAs and church youth groups and he currently serves on the board of the local Boys and Girls Club. That kind of volunteerism and community involvement is typical in Canon City where Terry lives, a town with a large number of corrections employees and retirees.
A sense of responsibility and commitment to their communities continues even after those employees retire. In a town of approximately 15,000, families are interconnected and retirees contribute to keep many volunteer programs running.
“You see people who, after a full career, have set themselves up. They’ll get a set percentage of their salary, and they’ve been wise with their money. Maybe they’re ready to pay off their mortgage or take a vacation. And then they are back volunteering and making a positive contribution to their community.
Terry has stayed in touch with many friends from the private sector. He is happy with his choice of a career path with the DOC. It has proven to be a great career and provided his family with the security they needed along with personal fulfillment.
“I see friends in the private sector go to Christmas parties where the companies literally spend thousands on the food alone, while, meanwhile, myself and other state employees are nervous if we accidentally bring home a post-it note from the office. I am proud of the work we all have done to provide accountability to OUR employer – the people of the state of Colorado.” Terry said.
“I wouldn’t trade their 401(k) for my PERA accounts. PERA will afford me the financial means and opportunities I want in retirement.”