Thursday, October 1, 2020

This article appeared in The Criterion, a newspaper of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis

Corrections Corner / Ed Witulski

Trusted Mentors aims to help offenders re-enter society

Ed WitulskiRe-entering society from prison often presents a series of obstacles that are difficult to overcome, so people give up.

Since its founding 16 years ago, Trusted Mentors has responded to a vital need in Indianapolis to help people in poverty and at high risk of homelessness achieve stable housing and progress to self-sufficiency.

We provide trained, volunteer mentors to adults at risk of homelessness, ex-offenders re-entering society, and young adults aging out of foster care.

We train, assign and support volunteer mentors to enable at-risk adults to stabilize their lives and succeed in reaching new goals. We partner with multiple agencies in Indianapolis that serve those at risk of homelessness and provide mentoring for the adults they refer to us.

Trusted Mentors is the only agency in Indiana to offer mentoring to at-risk adults. On average, over the past five years, when the relationship lasted 90 days, 95% of our mentees achieved stable housing, and 90% of ex-offenders did not re-offend.

Trusted Mentors has continued to work during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mentors have helped their mentees file taxes, learn how to receive and spend their stimulus checks, plus provide important human relationships.

One mentor, Charles, says he has had more contact with his mentee than ever before. “Arlonzo is opening up more. He’s a cool dude in search of putting his life back together and is doing great at Ivy Tech.” Arlonzo is a young adult involved in the criminal justice system and is working to move forward with his life.

Brent and his mentor Bob were matched in mid-2018 as Brent re-entered society after decades in prison. He wanted a mentor because he had been out of society for a long time, and knew it would be hard going back. Bob shares that Brent has, “never missed a day’s work while having to get up at 4:30 a.m. to catch the bus and walk several blocks from the bus line to be on time at 8 a.m.”

Brent set a budget, including saving 10% from every paycheck for unexpected needs such as helping his mother pay for an emergency medical service. Brent has improved employment with the goal of moving into better housing and establishing stronger family ties.

Bob says, “This kind of ‘goal setting’ strategy is why I am proud of Brent. He is a humble man willing to do what it takes to establish the life he wants for himself and his family. He is succeeding because he isn’t letting his history define his future.”

Bob adds, “Whenever I ask him what during his time in prison gave him the positive attitude he has toward the future, his response is always, ‘during my first 10 years I spent 24/7 trying to figure out how I could do what I did without getting caught. Then one day I thought, what a waste of time! What I should be doing is something that would keep me from coming back once I get out.’ ”

(Ed Witulski of Trusted Mentors is a member of the archdiocese’s Corrections Ministry Advisory Committee. A member of St. Monica Parish in Indianapolis, he invites you to meet with him to discuss mentoring by calling 317-590-6970, or e-mailing