Volunteers are needed for Toastmasters programs in North Central Correctional Institution in Gardner, MCI Shirley Minimum and Souza Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley.
The rewards of prison volunteering are many.
"Facilitating Toastmasters in prisons is the most powerful volunteer work I have ever done. I'm inspired by their progress, hope and commitment to self-improvement, against all odds," said Susan Tordella, a prison volunteer since 2008.
Toastmasters is an international self-help movement that empowers people through public speaking, teamwork, leadership and personal growth by following a set format of prepared speeches, extemporaneous speaking and evaluations. Some 280,000 members belong to 13,500 clubs in 116 countries. There are also Toastmasters programs in 14 correctional facilities in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
The prison Toastmasters programs are facilitated by volunteers, under staff supervision. Inmates attend to learn skills which better prepare them for reentry. Toastmasters emphasizes public-speaking in the development of leadership, critical thinking and teamwork skills, attributes which will benefit them in prison and upon release, since 92 percent of inmates will leave prison.
Volunteers must pass a criminal background check and commit to attending a weeknight meeting once a month, or once a week for a 12-week course. Training is provided. Spanish speaking volunteers welcomed.