How can you help families affected by incarceration? Volunteer as a mentor.
For just a minute, imagine yourself in the shoes of a person serving the last day of your incarceration.
For months, your every day schedule came pre-decided, and you've had to ask permission to do almost everything. Tomorrow, you are finally free to move on from your mistakes and live the life you've been dreaming of this whole time. You feel relief, excitement, and nervous walking into your first day as a new, free person.
All at once, you fall back into the role of parent, significant other, etc. You need a job. You need stable, safe, and affordable housing for your family. Debt collectors are calling. You don't have the family or community support you expected. You keep hearing "no" from employers. You're trying so hard, and don't know what you're doing wrong or what to do differently.
You don't know of any resources to help you.
That is the reality for the 950 people who have been released from incarceration in Indiana in the past year. It's a heavy burden to bear, especially when it has to be done alone. That's a major reason why 38% of Indiana adults released are rearrested within three years.
However, when that burden is shared, success becomes much more attainable. In a major Department of Labor Re-entry program, those who participated in mentoring programs were more likely to find and keep a job, and less likely to be rearrested. Mentoring makes a difference in these individual's lives, in their families' lives, and in the communities they return to.
You can be the person that makes that difference.
As a volunteer in our mentoring program, you commit to spend 8-10 hours/month for a year with your mentee - a mother or father transitioning out of prison. You become a listening ear, a compassionate guide, and a support. For just two hours of your week, you get to broaden your perspective, give back to the community, change a life, and gain a friend. Here's what current volunteer Julie says about her experience:
"Getting involved with the Second Chance Mentoring program is a great way to offer support to someone transitioning out of incarceration. Initially, I was concerned it would be tough to build a friendship without it feeling "forced," but that was not the case. After a few coffee dates, we began to bond over our similarities. It became very easy to keep up with each other. My main goal was to be kind and supportive, and be a friend that can be counted on. Being part of this program helped me develop a better understanding of what it takes to be successful after being released from jail/prison. There seem to be many disappointments and trust can be an issue for the person. I hope that my support and friendship can help her be successful in the future."