PORT CHESTER, N.Y. Saving Our Society, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping the formerly incarcerated rejoin the community, hosted a celebration award ceremony for its inaugural mentorship program at Summerfield Methodist Church on Wednesday night.
Over the past five months, SOS has teamed up with the Port Chester/Rye Brook Rotary Club to form a mentorship program for ex-convicts. Originally only slated to last 16 weeks, the program aims to ease the re-entry process for its members by pairing them with suitable matches within the community.
Anthony Ellis, one of the 14 graduating mentees, said he felt good about the strides he made over the past few months, but acknowledged that he still has far to go.
When asked what he most took away from the experience Ellis emphatically responded with one word: confidence.
The evening began with a buffet style THANKSgiving dinner, followed by remarks from John Kiyak, Rotarian president and mentor, and member of the State Assembly George Latimer (D District 91). Other notable guests included Lt. Conway of the Port Chester Police department, Rye Town Supervisor Joe Carvin, and Port Chester Mayor Dennis Pilla.
Kiyak shared a heartfelt story about a June evening where each program member accepted all their faults, feelings, hurts, and dreams. We told each other everything, said Kiyak. There wasnt a dry eye in the house. After that we became a family.
He concluded by saying, I hope this experience made a difference in your lives, because it certainly did in mine.
John Conyers, Rotarian and SOS executive director, said he is optimistic about the programs future but acknowledges the difficulties that lie ahead.
The hardest part is going to be finding new mentors, Conyers said. The Rotarians are going to be a hard act to follow.
Luckily for Conyers, at least two of the seven current mentors have expressed interest in returning when the program re-opens its doors in Feb. 2012.
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