ACC mentoring program gives former inmates 2nd chance

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Sometimes a simple conversation can shift the direction of your life forever. Just ask 25-year-old Franchesca Taylor. 

“As I think about it now, it was a dumb mistake and I wouldn’t want to go back around that road,” Taylor said. 

That mistake she was talking about was committing crimes like theft, fraud and forgery and ending up in prison. 

“[I] wanted to live fast money life, something I didn’t have to do,” Taylor said. 

It wasn’t until Taylor came to Hope Rises that she realized she didn’t have to live that life. Hope Rises is an Arkansas Community Correction reentry facility. 

“It was something new to me, something I had to get used to, but I accomplished so much. I got back into medical school. I got my National Certificate for Readiness,” Taylor explained. 

None of those achievements would have been possible without her mentor, Mary Waldo. 

“I notice a change almost every week,” Waldo said about her mentee. “I know she’s growing and doing some things that are very important for her future.” 

Once per week Waldo comes to Hope Rises to catch up with Taylor. 

“It’s a very reciprocal program. I learn as much as I’m hoping that I’m helping Francesca,” Waldo said. 

“I’m comfortable talking to her. She’s very, very, very helpful at things. She asks me about my goals and asks what she can do and she wants to be involved even when I leave Hope Rises,” Taylor said. 

While Taylor has only been at Hope Rises for a few weeks, that time and those conversations have been life changing. 

The Arkansas Community Correction is also looking for adult mentors. You must be at least 21 years old, fill out an application, pass a background check and complete a two-hour training. If you are interested, contact ACC Reentry Certified Volunteer Manager Ardella Bearden at 501-743-0959 or ardella.bearden@arkansas.gov.

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