National Mentoring Month celebrates the impact of mentors on former offenders
January 2013 marks the 12th anniversary of National Mentoring Month, spearheaded by three national organizations with the goal of involving more people in the mentoring process.
A host of advocates such as President Bill Clinton, poet Maya Angelou, actor Clint Eastwood and baseball star Cal Ripken Jr. have promoted the nationwide initiative, declaring that “Mentoring works” and calling for all to consider mentoring another person.
Three groups teamed up to promote the month-long celebration of mentoring, Harvard Mentoring Project, MENTOR, and the Corporation for National and Community Service. Among the observances planned are “National Thank Your Mentor Day” on Jan. 17 and “Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service” on Jan. 21.
According to Kansas Corrections Secretary Ray Roberts, KDOC has taken as one of its primary objectives to match Kansas prison inmates with mentors. Governor Sam Brownback launched Mentoring4Success to achieve KDOC’s goal in July 2011, and, as of December 31, 2012, has already matched more than 1,619 mentors with inmates across the state.
“Imagine someone not having contact with the outside world for years, then being released and on their own – not having anyone to talk to, not knowing how to begin making a new life,” said Gloria Geither, KDOC’s Mentoring Director. “Many people coming out of prison have skills and knowledge of what they should do, but they don’t have anyone for support or guidance.”
Brownback’s vision is aimed at helping inmates have the support and connection they need to transition after release. He said the more difficult the adjustment, the more prone a former inmate will be to become desperate, lose focus or revert to bad habits. Failure to meet the standards of their post-release supervision or the temptation to commit new crimes often leads them right back to prison, making them a danger to society, a disappointment to their families, and a costly problem for the state.
“Offenders face challenges during, and after, their community transition,” said Secretary Roberts. “A mentor is able to reinforce and support the positive steps an offender has made inside a facility, plus they help an offender interface with community resources and collectively do a better job upon release.”
“As a mentor, you could help that person get connected in the community again, help them with resume writing and finding employment, and provide positive encouragement, as well as hold them accountable,” said Geither.
The National Mentoring Month website encouraged Americans to “reach out to thank or honor those individuals who encouraged and guided them and had a lasting, positive impact on their lives” on National Thank Your Mentor Day.
The website also called Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service “an ideal opportunity to highlight the importance of mentoring. Use the day to honor mentors in your community, recruit new mentors, provide training to mentoring programs or encourage mentor pairs to serve together.”
Anyone interested in learning more about KDOC’s Mentoring4Success program can do so a http://www.doc.ks.gov/mentoring or by calling Gloria Geither (785) 296-0450.