“Face to Face with Reality, a transformative story: Leah and Jenny.” This presentation focuses on the enriching experiences provided by engaging in a mentor-mentee relationship. FOCUS trains new mentors six times a year. If you would like to discuss the mentoring process please call 720-304-6446 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are all part of one enormous body in this mystery we call life. Being the small part of the body I am, how can I do anything but respond when another part is in pain? It’s always seemed strange and incomprehensible to me that I’ve been lucky (and it IS luck) to have had a relatively easy life with loving parents, plenty of comforts and very little suffering. When there is such incredible suffering in the world, including in our own community, I consider it a true privilege to be involved in the FOCUS mentoring program and to work together with a woman who has been less fortunate than I. I believe I’ve been given personal and professional skills which make me well suited to being a mentor, and I greatly enjoy this opportunity.
— P.M November, 2007
To my mentee,
You asked why I participate in FOCUS and I promised to write you a letter. First of all, what does FOCUS mean? It is Facilitating Offenders Choosing Uplifting Solutions. The program is here to help those who want to succeed in society and stay out of jail. Now that I have met you I can see that you clearly want a new life. I am here to help you with that. We believe people need at least three things to help stay out of jail, employment, housing, and a mentor. A mentor is someone in your court.
I am here to encourage you and help where I can. However this is neither ministry nor therapy. There will be many times when I do not have the answers but I pledge to try to find them. You will need to step up to the plate and follow through. I think you know that though and you seem ready.
Why am I doing this? There are two primary reasons. I have had some very rough times in the last ten years but have survived. I have been very fortunate. I have come through the dark times and found new joy in life.
And I know what it is like to be lonely and scared. I have also felt hopeless and lost. I do not know if you feel this way but since I have been there I want to reach out and do what I can to help another with those difficult feelings. Since I have been so lucky I want to comfort those who have not been.
I have had several mentors in my life and each helped me. I only hope that I can provide some help to you. That is my goal.
I look forward to working together.
Why I became a FOCUS Mentor
I have been a FOCUS Mentor since September, 2006, and I am presently working with my second client. It has become clear to me that there are many people in our penal system who are trying really hard to work out their problems and learn to lead productive lives. However, they meet with many frustrations that make it more difficult for them to make meaningful changes. When Tania Leontov gave a presentation at our church, I thought that this was an area where I could make a difference. In the process I have learned that the Boulder County justice system has a lot going for it and many places where it could do better. Perhaps most interesting to me is the fact that they are willing to work constructively with FOCUS, and they believe that FOCUS is helping people. I believe it is significant that FOCUS chooses people who are ready to make a change, and therefore, they put their efforts where they will do the most good. I sincerely believe that I am making a difference in people’s lives, and that is very gratifying to me.
It was about two years ago while reading through a special insert in my church bulletin that a request for volunteer mentors caught my eye. Although I had spent much of my working life in some form of mentoring this was different then anything I had ever been involved in. This program, run by an organization called FOCUS, was working with men and women being released from the Boulder County Jail. Inmates who had a desire to turn their lives around requested a mentor for help and guidance during the critical transition time between jail and a new life.
It has always been my personal belief that we as individuals seldom impact the world without taking the time to impact people one on one. As a Christian I reflect on the fact that Christ himself choose the personal touch working with imperfect yet willing souls one on one or in small groups to change the world. As a concerned citizen I struggle with what seems to be an ever growing increase in career criminals and the victimization of Innocent, hard working people by these criminals. The question I asked myself is, “How can I as an average person do anything to make my world a safer place and still hold to the belief that people deserve the chance to change?” I decided that mentoring was a good start.
After taking the FOCUS training, which was very helpful, I was assigned a client. So far my experience has been rewarding. FOCUS provides on going training and mentor meetings which allows the mentors to get valuable information and exchange helpful hints. There are so many wonderful success stories and so many waiting to be told. I know I will never change the whole world but what I can do is change my little piece of it.
Why I chose to have a mentor
I’m a 36 year old mother of 3 boys with some college education. I was addicted to meth for the 15yrs prior to this past 1yr and 2 months of TOTAL sobriety. I have been homeless for several years without a job or any kind of direction. I now have three felonies as of the beginning of 2008.
I chose to participate in the FOCUS PROGRAM while incarcerated at the Boulder County Jail. I knew immediately this was the program I had to be in if I was going to successfully change my life. I knew from previous attempts I could not do such a transformation alone. I had to have someone on my side: a person in my sober court working towards a common goal. My mentor is an angel. She has been my advocate and example in reintegrating into the community. I needed guidance and a companion while on a life transformation.
I had absolutely NOTHING upon my release from jail. I had no home, state identification, social security card, birth certificate, food, clothes, transportation, communications, friends, family, job, or money. MY MENTOR was there for me. She picked me up in Greeley Colorado where I was released since I had charges in that county as well.
I had the best of intentions meeting all my legal obligations, changing my life even before my incarceration I would probably still have the best of intentions rather than actually DOING it if it werent for the FOCUS PROGRAM. The program gave me the tools anyone needs to tackle such a task. I was given a phone, rides to appointments, job searching, gift cards for food, clothes, the list goes on…
I continue to work with my mentor and the FOCUS PROGRAM. I’m 11 months into the program. I have a job, apartment, a relationship with my children, family and friends. I attribute this to the program. FOCUS PROGRAM is a program of HOPE. Im still struggling, however, not nearly as much as I would be without my mentor or the program.
This is the greatest opportunity for anyone with a desire for change. It is a real blessing.
(Emma is the mentor’s dog)