January is National Mentoring Month. During this time the Re-entry Program for Parolees Network attempts to get more acquainted with entities and individuals in Phillips County who are interested in helping parolees re-enter the workforce and break the cycle of repeat offenders. The Re-entry Network Program consists of two types of care for those who have been paroled from the prison and have been provided a 6-month post prison program and those who are currently on probation for substance abuse or other criminal activities. “We try to provide consistent options such as ongoing life skills instruction, anger management instruction, help in finding a supportive church, finding appropriate supervised housing, finding technical training for job skills, and educational or GED completion,” explained Faith Outreach Church Mission Pastor Dennis Wilson. According to pastor Jim Harrison, mentorship is a key step to successful re-entry for those on parole or probation. “Individuals who have just come out of prison have a tendency to repeat their previous actions and mentoring provides them someone they can trust and lean on when they need to,” commented Harrison. Harrison explained that there are 3 areas that each parolee or returning citizen needs help to return to being a productive member of society. “Everyone will need spiritual guidance, life skill instruction at some point of their lives, as well as mentorship where they will find help and support from someone that they can trust and lean on when needed,” said Harrison. According to Harrison some of the things that a mentor can do to help returning citizens “re-entering society instead of re-entering your home” include finding a common ground, establishing trusting relationships with parolees and their other supporters such as family, sharing contact information, discussing their spiritual beliefs, hobbies, likes and dislikes and “most importantly reassurance that you will be there for that parolee,” commented Harrison. Harrison and Wilson provide mentorship at that the Faith Outreach Church that offers 63 lessons including those on addiction, parenting, marriage, finances and building relationships new or old. According to DCC Community Resource Administrator Gene Walker any re-entry coalition has to be faith-based and have something that is guiding and pushing the mission at hand. “What we can recommend is connecting with local and county judges and utilizing smarter sentencing guidelines where they can be directed away from prison by recommending certain requirements such as getting a GED, being paroled in a workforce program or doing something to engage the community through the core nucleus of this coalition,” said Walker. There are certain qualifications that each parolee or returning citizen has to make before they can receive public assistance. “There are community agencies designated either by court order or a condition of release order they will have to follow whether drug or alcohol issues, rehabilitation or getting an education,” explained Walker. Walker explained that funding is limited and money is drying up but encouraged the coalition to seek grant writers or other resources to create an existence in their social network. In closing, Walker stressed the need to be faith based, which will encourage something from the heart not just from the head. Currently the re-entry program for parolees is seeking businessman and merchants or anyone capable of helping with selective job training and proper re-entry services. For more information contact Wilson at 870-918-9019 or Harrison at 870-816-5673.