The Restorative Justice Project of the Midcoast (RJP) is seeking stable, compassionate and resourceful mentors for residents at the Maine Coastal Regional Reentry Center in Belfast.

Rejoining society after serving a sentence in prison is fraught with difficulties. Many inmates have lost their families, jobs, homes and sense of self. The recidivism rate for Maine prisoners is close to 60 percent.

The relationships that develop from mentoring help ease the transition back into society for many Reentry Center residents, reducing the rate of recidivism. Often, the bond formed through weekly encounters is strong enough to help transform lives.

Becoming a mentor is as easy as signing up for the next RJP training series, which will be held at the United Methodist Church at 71 Franklin St., Bucksport, on Dec. 2, 9 and 16, from 6 to 8:30 p.m.

The sessions, which last two and a half hours, include information about the philosophy of restorative justice and its practice, reflections on mentoring and discussions of the theories that inform this work. Participants will also talk with an active mentor and mentee as part of the training.

Last year about 75 volunteer mentors gave more than 3,000 hours of their time meeting with inmates and juveniles. The mentors are a diverse group that includes teachers, mental health professionals, lobstermen, carpenters, insurance executives, pastors, church-goers and community activists.

One said, "Starting a mentor relationship is like turning the cover of a good novel. Inside are great, sometimes sad stories, and surprises and tough going. The plot twists and turns as if a great writer was pushing things around. And the end? Is there really an end?"

To register for the sessions, please contact Hanlon Kelley at 338-2742, ext. 101, or email hanlon@rjpmidcoast.org