Serving Productive Time: Stories, Poems, and Tips to Inspire Positive Change from Inmates, Prison Staff, and Volunteers

Serving Productive Time: Stories, Poems, and Tips to Inspire Positive Change from Inmates, Prison Staff, and Volunteers

by Tom Lagana, Laura Lagana


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780757307829
Publisher: Health Communications, Incorporated
Publication date: 07/01/2009
Pages: 244
Sales rank: 198,403
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Tom Lagana believes that one person can make a difference. He is dedicated to living a positive, successful life and helping others to do the same.

When Tom was a child, his mother, a registered nurse, often volunteered with the American Red Cross and would take him along with her. Influenced and inspired by her loving example, Tom continued his own volunteering activities and, as a teenager, started with fund-raising projects for his school. In his adult years, he served to help solicit funding from corporations and employees for the United Way of Delaware.

He has served extensively in the prison system throughout the United States, working with inmates. He is a volunteer in the Emergency Department of Wilmington Hospital, part of the Christiana Care Health System in Delaware.

In 1994, he was honored as a recipient of the Jefferson Award for outstanding public service. He and his wife, Laura, have two grown sons and two grandsons who are carrying on in the family tradition.

Tom graduated from Villanova University in Pennsylvania with a degree in electrical engineering and worked as an engineer for more than thirty years. In his corporate career, he was often asked to deliver technical presentations. As his passion for inspiring others evolved, he learned the value of sharpening his public speaking skills.

Since his transition to a different career path, Tom has facilitated more than one thousand personal development and management presentations nationally and internationally. Through his refreshingly humorous presentations, laced with innovative audience interactions, Tom inspires people everywhere to become their best.

Tom's life experiences have led him to coauthor two highly successful books in the bestselling Chicken Soup for the Soul series, including Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul. He and Laura are coauthors of Chicken Soup for the Volunteer's Soul, Serving Time, Serving Others, and The Quick and Easy Guide to Project Management.

For more information about Tom's training programs, and to schedule him for a keynote presentation or seminar, please contact:

Success Solutions
P.O. Box 7816
Wilmington, Delaware 19803
(302) 475-4825
Web site:

Laura Lagana is an author, professional speaker, nurse, and volunteer. She is a coauthor of Chicken Soup for the Volunteer's Soul, Serving Time, Serving Others, The Quick and Easy Guide to Project Management, author/editor of Touched by Angels of Mercy, and a frequent Chicken Soup for the Soul contributing author.

At age sixteen, undecided about which career path to choose, she heeded a friend's advice and became a candy striper at a local hospital to observe the role of the professional nurse, advice that helped her decide. Five years later, Laura graduated from the Bryn Mawr Hospital School of Nursing in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania.

During her twenty-eight years as a registered nurse, often aided by valiant volunteers, Laura harvested scores of unforgettable experiences from the clinical areas of medical-surgical, intensive care, and orthopedics.

A volunteer for most of her life, she admits to reaping immeasurable rewards and gaining insight into the human condition. Today she is an intensive care unit volunteer with the Christiana Care Health System in Wilmington, Delaware.

In 1997, steered by the winds of change tugging at her heartstrings, Laura made a transition from a career in nursing to that of writing and speaking, where she savors the opportunity to follow her lifelong passion as she combines the best of all three worlds. Laura works with her husband, Tom (coauthor of Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul), in their own business, which often takes them across the United States, presenting and facilitating seminars for clients on both sides of the razor wire.

Applying the knowledge gleaned from her years in health care and lived-life experiences, Laura delights in helping people become their best.

For more information about Laura's programs, and to schedule her for a presentation, please contact:

Success Solutions
P.O. Box 7816
Wilmington, Delaware 19803
(302) 475-4825
Web site:

Read an Excerpt

First Impressions

Gary K. Farlow

Like most people, I had a Hollywood image of prison: smoke-filled dormitories inhabited by tattooed bodybuilders carrying hate and homemade weapons. I arrived at North Carolina's Central Prison on a Friday evening. I wore my fear and trepidation like an aura as I, a pallid 128-pound weakling, stepped into my worst nightmare. It was like the old television commercial for E. F. Hutton. All conversation and card games came to an immediate halt when I walked into the dorm. All heads swiveled in my direction to size me up. My first thought was, I'm going to die tonight. I was about to learn just how misleading first impressions can be.

I never knew his real name. 'Preacher' was probably in his late fifties and, despite imprisonment, carried the demeanor of one who hadn't a worry in the world. As fate would have it, I was assigned to the bunk immediately over him. After a couple of days of observing me in my self-imposed isolation, Preacher approached me carrying a soda and a Bible.

Now I always considered myself to be a Christian. I mean, I was brought up in the church, baptized, and 'saved,' so I must be a Christian, right? Yet, like so many, I tended to view God as some sort of 'celestial Santa Claus' I called on only when I wanted something.

'You look like you could use a friend,' were Preacher's first words as he handed me a Bible and a soda. My suspicions must have been obvious. Preacher tilted his head back and laughed. 'Don't worry yourself. I ain't gonna hurt you, and I want nothing from you. My friendship and the Bible are free. You can repay the soda when you're able to.'

My relief, as well as all of the anxiety and apprehension I'd kept bottled up inside, suddenly burst forth. Tears flowed, and my body slumped like a deflated balloon.

'You can live in prison one of two ways,' Preacher explained. 'You can serve time, or it can serve you.'
Somewhat puzzled, I asked, 'What do you mean?'

'Well, it's obvious. God intends for you to learn something. You have a choice now, just like you did when you committed your crime. It's called free will. You can spend your years consumed in anger, bitterness, and blaming everyone and everything else, or you can accept responsibility for your actions and make this time work for you and count for something.'

'You mean, sort of like when life gives you lemons and you make lemonade?'
'Kinda,' Preacher responded. 'You have the opportunity, albeit forced upon you, to better yourself—get a handle on your problems, pursue an education, and develop a talent. It's all up to you.'

I stared dumbfounded. I thought, Is this guy trying to tell me to be grateful for prison? 'It sounds as if you think I should be thankful to be here, Preacher.'

Shaking his head, Preacher replied, 'No, Gary, not at all. What I'm trying to tell you is that you should make the conscious choice to not waste this time. Have something to show for it when the time comes.'

Preacher left Central Prison just a few days later. As is the case, inmates are a transient population. When I think of him, I'm reminded of seventh-grade literature class and a book entitled Brief Encounters. It focused on the fact that we often meet people in our lives who we may know only for a short time but who have a lasting and profound impact on us.

©2009. Gary K. Farlow. All rights reserved. Reprinted from Serving Productive Time by Tom Lagana, Laura Lagana. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street , Deerfield Beach , FL 33442.

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From the Publisher

'. . . inspiring stories and thought-provoking insight by a cross-section of people touched by incarceration, enriching our world on both sides of the razor wire.'

—Jack Canfield, Cocreator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul® series

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