Prisoners' kids get guidance

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Christina Marie
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Prisoners' kids get guidance

Unread post by Christina Marie » October 17th, 2005, 7:17 am

Prisoners' kids get guidance
Program pairs Alameda County youth with mentors
By Ricci Graham, STAFF WRITER



When the father of Tamara Thomas' children was incarcerated, she was confident that she could do it all — be both the mother and father to her children.
But recently the emotional distance between herself and her son — Treshawn, 12 — began to widen, a gulf magnified by his sudden reluctance to talk and his slipping grades.

Thomas knew her son needed a strong male presence in his life, a man who could be a role model and help guide Treshawn through his difficult adolescent years.

"My biggest obstacle right now is trying to raise my sons to be men," said Thomas, a 34-year-old Hayward resident and a mother of six. "I don't know how to do that. It's been difficult to me, because I had no one to turn to. He needs a man he can call and talk to."

After searching for help, Thomas learned about the OreMi Mentoring Program, which matches children who have a parent in state or federal prison with an adult mentor.

Thomas said Treshawn joined the program in June and has been mentored by Aman Beyene, who has taken the young boy under his wing. Beyene, she said, has shared his interest in music and sports with her son, who she said has slowly emerged from his shell since the two began spending time together weekly.

"It's been amazing," Thomas said. "It's been slow, but the change is significant. His attitude has changed. He really doesn't fly off the handle like he used to. It's been a positive experience." The OreMi Mentoring program, which was established last year, is part of a collaborative effort between the Family Support Services of the Bay Area and Big Brother Big Sisters of the East Bay. The two agencies formed the partnership with one essential goal in mind: to break the cycle of crime and incarceration by providing children of incarcerated parents throughout Alameda County with one-on-one mentors.

Since it was established, program director Andrea Moore said 25 Alameda County kids have been matched with mentors, most of whom are professionals who are trying to make a difference in their communities.

Many of the kids who are referred to the program, Moore added, receive some form of support from the Family Support Services of the Bay Area.

"The incarceration of a family member is usually the final explosive event that disrupts a family," Moore said. "There is a lot of shame around incarceration and what that means. We do a lot of home-based intensive services across the Bay Area.

"Mentoring is one of the things we do. It just flowed well with all the other social services that we offer."

According to the Family Support Services of the Bay Area, an estimated 5,200 kids living in Alameda County have a parent in federal or state prison. As a result, the future of those children is ominous, since they are seven times more likely to be incarcerated themselves.

Many of the kids are impoverished and suffer from a lack of education.

"Our goal is to try to bring them out and let them know that there are other people out there

http://www.insidebayarea.com/dailyrevie ... ci_3122146

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qbone
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Unread post by qbone » October 17th, 2005, 9:13 am

some of these adults needs guidence to be fore they get incarcerated.but thats a good program. they need to have one of them in every city once again sister good looking out.u deserve a award for the info u give to the site.

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Christina Marie
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Unread post by Christina Marie » October 17th, 2005, 9:34 am

qbone wrote:some of these adults needs guidence to be fore they get incarcerated.but thats a good program. they need to have one of them in every city once again sister good looking out.u deserve a award for the info u give to the site.

Yes, intervention for the adults would be the place to start, but at least this program and programs like it will hopefully stop the cycle of generations of a family going to prison. You make me get all misty, TY so much for the awesome compliment.

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