The Restorative Justice Project of Midcoast Maine celebrated its Volunteer Mentor Program recently with a keynote speaker and special acknowledgement of the outstanding volunteer-mentor contributions.

About 25 volunteers attended as well as two reentry center residents with their mentors. Lead presenter, Jeff Aronson, presented on how the humanities can help one reflect on the “why” that we “ask ourselves all the time, by providing “the potency of the big ideas” to foster dialogue and deepen relationships.

Aronson provided examples of how to integrate the humanities into the mentor-mentee restorative justice work, using photo essays and short readings that present opportunities for discussion about life choices and challenges.

Volunteers serve in Waldo, Knox, Lincoln and Hancock counties. Some volunteers serve as mentors to juvenile offenders to help them meet agreements created through a Community Resolution Conference circle that provides diversion from the courts. Other volunteers serve as mentors to adult residents of the Maine Coastal Regional Reentry Center who are nearing the end of their incarceration and seeking guidance in how to successfully reenter society.

Because of these volunteers, RJP has significantly decreased recidivism, healing of victims, and transformed lives — rarities within the traditional criminal justice system. “We have a need for more volunteers in Waldo and Knox Counties”, reports Margaret Micolichek, executive director of RJP. “We could easily double the number of persons we are working with. Our more than sixty current volunteers are actively committed to meeting this tremendous need.”.

Those who might be interested in becoming a Volunteer Mentor, helping to give offenders a second chance, can attend an information session on Thursday, June 6, 5:30-6:30 at the Lincolnville Community Center. Follow-up training is offered on June 8, 9:00-4:00 and on June 13, 5:30-7:30.

For more information or to sign up to attend rjpmidcoast.org or 338-2742.