N.Y. men's group visits Sumter inmates to share their stories


Iron Sharpens Iron Men's Group, based out of Fishkill, New York, recently visited Sumter County Sheriff's Office Detention Center for the second time. The team of formerly incarcerated individuals, correctional officers and prison ministry officials shared their stories of transformation and hope with the incarcerated men and women at the facility. Collectively, its members have served 83 years in New York state prison.

Vanessa Smith-Canty and Maj. Patricia Ray coordinated the event.

"We never know which words might be the catalyst for change in people's lives," Canty said.

Among the speakers was Michael J. Love, who was once sentenced to life in prison but found a path to transformation during his time behind bars. Love earned his GED, associate, bachelor's and master's degrees and began teaching other inmates, eventually teaching for the community college while still incarcerated.

"We all make mistakes, but the power of love through Jesus Christ is what saved me, and it is what I use to inspire other men and women behind bars," Love said.

Austin Floyd discussed his experiences growing up in a crime-filled, impoverished community.

"Although I was surrounded by an under-resourced community, my mind remained free, and education helped me avoid succumbing to my surroundings," he said.

The group hopes to maintain a lasting relationship with the facility. They extended thanks to Sumter County Sheriff Anthony Dennis and all his staff at the detention center who made the visit possible and work to keep area communities safe each day.

For more information, contact Michael Love at (845) 372-8108 or Vanessa Smith-Canty at (803) 778-6432.