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Mentors are extraordinary people with ordinary lives who have a profound impact on the wellbeing of others and the safety of our community.
When Sponsors was founded in 1973 by Sister Janice Jackson, the term “mentoring” was not used as it is today. Instead, the language describing the original agency’s mission was “sponsoring” individuals, not “mentoring.” Hence, the organization became known as “Sponsors, Inc.”
Sister Janice and other activists “sponsored” men soon to be released from prison. They met with incarcerated men to formulate a release plan
and to discuss their goals, fears, and sobriety concerns. On release day, they offered the men a few basic necessities and a lift back to Lane County. Many of the men had nowhere to live and no one who cared.
In 1988, Sponsors shifted its focus from mentoring to addressing the tremendous need for housing. Mentoring services were reinstated in 2010 when Sponsors was awarded The Second Chance Act Mentoring Grant.
The Mentorship Program pairs volunteers with individuals reentering our community and attempting to make positive changes in their life. Mentors begin communicating while their mentees are still in prison and often offer a ride upon release. The program has served over 900 Sponsors participants, and some mentors have volunteered with multiple mentees.
The Sponsors Mentorship Program transforms lives by fostering a sense of purpose and empowerment, as well as creating new hobbies and interests. Fun, recreational
events in a supportive environment help participants build healthy relationships as they journey from prison to community. Mentors are extraordinary people with ordinary lives who have a profound impact on the wellbeing of others and the safety of our community, fulfilling Sister Janice’s vision so many years ago.
To learn more about becoming a mentor, please call Joel Smith at 541-735-6400.