Acceptance by Staff
A volunteer program needs the complete support and approval of the staff in order for it to be effective and sustainable. Therefore, staff should be included at all levels of the volunteer program.
A committee consisting of the Volunteer Coordinator and Correctional Staff would ensure staff are aware of the goals and objectives of the program. Staff must understand why volunteers are being used and in what areas they will be working. The roles and responsibilities of Correctional Staff must be clearly defined.
Determine the volunteer potential in your area. Sources for volunteers should be determined as soon as possible, so that you can readily attract them. Recognize the needs of the institution and the needs of volunteers. Recruitment should be targeted to attract volunteers with specific skills.
Be specific about the volunteer positions available at the institution. Develop a concise job description to target the desired skills you need in a volunteer. Each position should have a title, which will be the volunteer's identification. See Appendix B for Job Descriptions.
Suggested Qualifications for a Volunteer Literacy Tutor/Computer Mentor
The following criteria may prove to be helpful in finding skilled volunteers:
Inmates can sometimes provide Peer Tutoring to other inmates. This situation can benefit both parties if suitable tutors are available. Inmate tutors will be selected at the discretion of the Volunteer Coordinator, through consultation with Correctional Staff. Inmate tutors should meet the following criteria, some of which is similar to Correctional Volunteers:
Inmates will sometimes take on a positive leadership role in the institution. In certain situations, they can provide volunteer services for the community. This can play an important role in the inmate's rehabilitation and allow the institution and the inmate to contribute to the community in a positive way.
Inmate volunteering will make the Correctional Center an extension of the community. The introduction of computers has made possible inmates providing a variety of technical and clerical supports to agencies such as Laubach Literacy, Literacy Councils and other volunteer agencies that provide services to inmates.
The Correctional Centers and inmates have the potential to become valued community resources, through the development of mutually beneficial relationships with volunteer community agencies.
Correctional Centers are often perceived by the public as institutions for punishment and not rehabilitation. Institutions must invite the community to volunteer. Volunteer campaigns can attract suitable volunteers, while at the same time improving public perceptions.
People respond positively when the volunteer position fits their own personal motivation. Each position should be challenging and satisfying to the volunteer and be meaningful to the inmate. Motivated volunteers work better and will usually remain longer. There is never one reason to volunteer. It is usually a combination of reasons.
Volunteers remain committed when they feel appreciated and they can see that their presence makes a difference. Private and public recognition is important in that it gives volunteers a sense of belonging. When we focus on their achievements, we recognize that something significant is happening with regards to the program, the inmate, staff and the institution.
Benefits of Being a Volunteer
Each person will have his own motivation for becoming a volunteer. Therefore benefits will be different for each volunteer.
In order to deliver programs in basic literacy, academic upgrading and computer skills, materials must be readily available to inmates and volunteers. Correctional Centers will have designated classroom space and the latest in computer hardware and software. Further requirements, not limited the following include:
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