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Volunteers are backbone of mentorship programs

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Ted Sullivan
October 17, 2008

Twelve people volunteer for the jail ministry programs in the Walworth County Jail, mentoring inmates, leading Bible studies and helping with Sunday church services.


The goal of the programs is to introduce inmates to faith and help them improve their lives when they're released, Walworth County Jail chaplain Larry Hansen said.


About 40 inmates regularly participate, he said.


Mentors help inmates with goal setting, character development, decision making and becoming more balanced, Hansen said.


Many inmates who dedicate themselves to the programs don't commit more crimes when they're released, he said, and they become productive members of society.


"It worked in my life because I was rebellious as a youth and it changed my life," Hansen said. "It brings a peace to their lives."


Inmates volunteer to participate in the programs, he said, and it can be a life-changing event.


"It brings stability and gives them a sense of who they are," Hansen said. "You have to make that conscious decision to want to change your life."


Volunteers help because they have a compassion for those in need, he said.


The program wouldn't work without its volunteers and the support of the jail's administration, Hansen said.


"They're dedicated," he said. "They're just wonderful people."


Rich Marrano, a Burlington resident and volunteer, said he has seen change in inmates. He said he continues to meet with inmates after they're released from jail.


"It's a friendship," Marrano said. "I care about the guys."



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