People are invited to volunteer with prison Toastmasters programs at institutions in Gardner on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. and Shirley on Tuesday or Thursday at 6 p.m.

Through Toastmasters, incarcerated people practice skills to prepare to return to the community, such as self-confidence, leadership, critical thinking, planning and teamwork. Volunteers make a difference in someone's life through encouragement and mentoring. More than 90 percent of incarcerated people return home.

"Mentoring in prison has been one of the most interesting and transformative experiences of my life," said Susan Tordella, of Ayer. "It makes me aware of our common humanity, and I gain as much as I give. The prisons are part of our community. Our program helps to prepare people for coming home and to not return to prison."

Prospective volunteers must enjoy teaching, speaking extemporaneously, and encouraging others to set and achieve goals. Training is provided by the Department of Correction and by participating in prison Toastmasters program. Volunteers are expected to mentor one to two meetings a month, and must be able to arrive in Shirley by 6 p.m. and Gardner by 6:30 p.m. People new to Toastmasters are welcome to join our teams.

To visit a prison program, and for information on programs at correctional institutions in eastern Massachusetts, go to Contact Susan.Tordella @ gmail.

com, or call 978-846-2811.