Volunteer to become a community mentor

Jan 19, 2013

Thomaston — The Restorative Justice Project of the Midcoast is offering a free training for volunteer mentors to support people involved in the criminal justice system.

The next volunteer informational session is Thursday, Jan. 31 at 7:15 p.m. Any individuals interested in continuing are then invited to attend two additional sessions: Saturday, Feb. 2, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Thursday, Feb. 7, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. All sessions held at The Episcopal Church of St. John Baptist, 200 Main St., Thomaston. Participants need to pre-register before the training at rjpmidcoast.org/cms/volunteer.

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 the lives of offenders helps to sustain motivation, build self-esteem, and encourage the development of new behaviors and attitudes.

"Mentoring asks us to see beyond the young person’s crime to the good person they can be, and help them realize their potential. When we become advocate and ally to someone who has taken responsibility for their wrongdoing and who needs help in moving forward, we are modeling a way of being based on some important social values: connection, respect, compassion, second chances, trust in the human ability to learn and change, empathy. Like parenting, mentoring is a process of transformation that affects everyone involved, and that is a worthwhile role for anyone to embrace” states Barbara Blazej, court diversion mentor.

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 receives widespread support that includes probation, the district attorney's office, law enforcement, local congregations, 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.

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