Maine Coastal Regional Re-entry Center is recruiting mentors

Almost everywhere in Maine but in Waldo County, inmates returning to society after serving their sentences are merely given a bit of money and sent on their way. Some have attended Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meetings; some may have participated in classes or counseling for anger management or relationship building. Almost all will have lost their jobs through their incarceration. Some will be homeless, some will be estranged from their families.

In Belfast, the thirty-two residents of the Maine Coastal Regional Re-entry Center (MCRRC) at the old county jail get a better shake. They attend classes, do extensive community service, earn unsupervised time in the community, work at paying jobs — oh, and one thing more. A month or two after they arrive at the center they are matched with a trained Restorative Justice Project mentor who becomes a resource for getting to know the community, a partner in recreational, cultural, church or outdoor activities and a calm presence in what is often a turbulent life. The relationship lasts for an average of 6 months.

I’ve been a mentor for almost four years now, to four men who have faced the temptations of freedom with mixed results. Those who have been successful thus far are inspiring to me. Those who have returned to prison for their bad behavior will still benefit from their stay at MCRRC, I believe.

I write because the Restorative Justice Project of the Midcoast, which trained me to be a mentor, is looking for new recruits. A new training class for mentors begins with an introductory info session on Thursday, Dec. 5 from 6 – 8:30 p.m., during which a light supper will be offered. For those inspired by what they hear, a two-session training program will follow on Dec. 12 and 19 from 6 – 8:30 p.m. that will qualify them to serve as mentors. All programs will be held at the Unitarian Universalist Church on Miller Street. A tour of the re-entry center is included in the training.

Breaking the cycle of recidivism is challenging work, and well worth it. Please call Denise at 338-2742 to sign up for the mentor training classes. Together, we can change lives, and systems.

Jay Davis

Belfast

For RSU 3 busing, cheaper may not be better

In regards to the RSU 3 discussion about bidding out the transportation needs. Do you really want someone driving your kid to school who works for a contracted company? I bet they have a higher turnover rate because I bet they also make a lot less money than the bus drivers we have now. When my boys were in school we had the same driver for 15 years. He knew my kids well and I'm sure he cared for all the kids on his route. I can't believe there will be the same quality of service we, as parents, receive now. There is no more important job than getting them to school and back safely. We need to remember that we get what we pay for. Cheaper is not always better. If my children were still riding the bus I would be seriously questioning the need to do this.

Jacki Robbins

Monroe