In 2010, Mahar said the Probation Department saw an 84 percent success rate among young people who participated in the program.
“Where we see the most successes with the kids are when they have that strong family support network, and the ones that get what we’re trying to do as well,” said Mahar. “They come to the meeting, they are open to the meeting and the process, and they feel that they’ve gotten something out of it.”
Right now, Mahar is attempting to recruit volunteers who would be able to attend meetings in Bethlehem and Guilderland. The biggest hurdle to clear is finding people who are committed to helping their community in some way.
“The minimum qualifications are that you have to be 18 years of age,” said Mahar. “Because we are a county agency, we ask that you live, work or have a vested interest in the county.”
Volunteers must participate in a one-day training as part of the program. The number of volunteers that meet with a juvenile offender is limited in order to keep the interaction between the child and volunteers more personal. Mahar said she matches up experienced volunteers with those who are just joining the program.
Meetings with juvenile offenders outside of Albany are already scheduled at Bethlehem Town Hall and the Guilderland Public Library. Along with finding volunteers, Mahar said it is important to reach out and form relationships with community organizations, as many of the participants in the program are often asked to complete some type of community service.
Those interested in volunteering are asked to fill out an application on the Albany County Probation Department’s website. For more information, contact Lisa Mahar at 518-487-5856, or by email at Lisa.firstname.lastname@example.org.