Restorative Justice Project seeks community mentors
ROCKLAND — The Restorative Justice Project of the Midcoast is offering a free training for volunteer mentors to support youths and adults who are involved in the criminal justice system. The next Knox County volunteer training is scheduled for two days, Thursday, July 26 and Friday, July 27, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The training will be held at the First Universalist Church of Rockland, 345 Broadway. Participants need to pre-register before the training begins by going to rjpmidcoast.org/cms/volunteer.
The mission of the Restorative Justice Project of the Midcoast is to promote fundamental change in the way the community deals with crime and wrongdoing. RJP believes that when a crime or wrongdoing takes place, it is community and individual relationships that are damaged. On a fundamental level, trust is compromised and people feel less safe in their day-to-day lives. RJP works with communities to rebuild this trust and sense of safety. The restorative justice approach emphasizes responsibility and restitution rather than punishment. Restorative practices are taught and used in schools as a substitute for detention and suspensions and for adults and youths involved in the criminal justice system.
RJP is built upon solid practices, at the heart of which is mentoring and restorative processes that include as many involved parties as possible. Participation by community volunteers is critical to the success of this approach to personal and community healing. In this way RJP engages the community as partners in restorative responses to crime and wrongdoing. Mentoring is one of the most significant factors in helping people to turn their lives around. The presence of caring relationships in offenders’ lives helps to sustain motivation, build self-esteem, and encourage the development of new behaviors and attitudes. “As a mentor, what has meant the most is finding that I fairly easily can have a positive effect in another person's life when they need it so badly,” said a Waldo County mentor.
“Our need for volunteers continues to grow as do our programs and number of participants we are serving,” said Margaret Micolichek, RJP’s director. Formed in February 2005, the work of RJP has resulted in significantly decreased recidivism, healing of victims, and transformed lives — rarities within the traditional criminal justice system. RJP is supported by a widespread partnership that includes law enforcement, probation, the District Attorney's office, local congregations, numerous social service agencies, and community volunteers.
Volunteers receive training in all program areas and training and support are offered throughout their volunteer time. For more information or to download a volunteer application form, visit rjpmidcoast.org or call 338-2742.