August, 16 2018

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Program seeking mentors to help rehabilitate local youth

The Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration of Spokane is looking for people who would like to become mentors and be a positive influence in a TROUBLED TEEN�s life.

The TEENs at the Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration have been sentenced to a commitment time ranging from 31 days to a couple of years. The PROGRAM interviews teens who would like to have a mentor and then interviews the mentor volunteers and people with similar interests are matched.

The TEENs are matched with their mentor six months prior to their release date and continue to interact with them until six months after they are released.

Misty Myers, a juvenile rehabilitative community counselor at the Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration, said that mentors provide stability and guidance for the TEENs.

They�re �teaching them how to lead a crime-free lifestyle,� said Myers.

These TEENs come from all different backgrounds, she said. Some of them had home lives with no consistent adult presence that could point them in the right direction.

To become a mentor one must contact the Juvenile Rehabilitation office and fill out an application. After the application is received, the participant must then fill out a questionnaire on their interests and pass a Washington State background test.

After all the paperwork is done, participants must attend an eight-hour seminar in which they learn about the boundaries that are established with the teen and how to work with a TEEN in a juvenile detention center.

After all this preliminary work is completed, the participants are then matched according to their interests on the survey. Next, the mentor is escorted to the facility for the first initial contact.

After the initial contact, it is up to the mentor and the TEEN to establish their relationship. It could be developed through letter writing, phone calls or visits.

Most of the facilities are located on the west side of the state, said Myers, so we rely on letters and phone calls.

The facility in Spokane is currently interviewing 16 youths that they are hoping to pair up, said Myers.

The PROGRAM is completely voluntary for the youth, said Myers, and they are actually requesting mentors.

Myers said that the PROGRAM has proven to be successful. The PROGRAMs on the west side have had mentors for about six years and it has reduced the risk of re-offending by 30-40 percent.

The program in Spokane currently has three youth with mentors and they are training six new mentors next month.

�The feedback that I�ve heard [from the teens] has been very positive and they look forward to contact with their mentors,� said Myers.

�The ones that are on the waiting list are very excited.�

The adults that are involved in the PROGRAM have also had a very positive experience, said Myers.

They have a sense of accomplishment, they feel like they�re HELPing the community, and a sense of achievement, HELPing a youth lead a crime free lifestyle.

For more information contact Sara, Rich or Misty at the Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration (509) 363-4660.

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