Volunteers are our greatest asset. The MCJC relies on skilled, trained volunteers to provide many of our services. Dozens of citizens give their time every year to staff and promote our programs. Volunteers serve as members of the Community Advisory BoardRestorative Reentry's Circles of Support and Accountability (COSAs)Restorative Justice Panels and occasionally as mediators and facilitators for community forums.

The MCJC needs community members who are willing to deliver restorative justice in the Montpelier, Northfield and Waterbury areas by giving five to eight hours a month for at least a year to serve on a Restorative Justice Panel or a COSA. All volunteers are provided initial and ongoing training and support.

"Why we are all here is that we volunteers feel the great truth about life is that we are in this life together."

Restorative Justice Panel

Restorative Justice Panel members are volunteers from all walks of life who serve on a working citizen panel. These panel members conduct meetings with people who have been sentenced to a restorative process for (primarily) misdemeanor offenses. The focus is on the harm that was caused to victims, who are invited participate, and to the community by the actions of the person who offended.

The informal, structured conversation in these meetings among panel members, victims and the person who committed the offense leads to a plan of activities for the person who offended to make amends to those they hurt, restore relations with the community, and keep from committing future offenses. View a commentary on the Restorative Justice Panel (formerly Reparative Board) process that aired on VPR in 2008 and a 2016 article in the Waterbury Record featuring one of our many volunteers.

Circle of Support and Accountability 

Circle of Support and Accountability (COSA) volunteers provide group mentoring, with specific objectives and guidelines, to help a person who has committed a serious and violent offense become a productive, safe citizen upon release from prison. A COSA includes three to four volunteers, the reentry participant (core member), and a staff person. COSAs meet weekly and volunteers are encouraged to maintain other contact individually, according to their comfort level.

This support encourages the core member to engage in healthy recreation, overcome addictions, find employment, keep appointments, etc. Staff ensures a coordinated effort with the probation officer, treatment providers, family members, and others involved in the core member's life. Check out Vermont Edition's coverage Addressing Recidivism with Community on VPR on January 6, 2014.

Volunteer Qualities

Effective volunteers are:
  • Balanced: Skilled at seeing multiple sides of a person or situation
  • Broad Minded: Able to see and appreciate complexities inherent in a situation
  • Compassionate: Understanding and caring about people who are victimized and able to be empathetic with someone who has done wrong
  • Curious: Open to continuous learning
  • Encouraging: Able to recognize, acknowledge, and nurture strengths
  • Good Humored: Comfortable with using humor to get through tough and serious situations
  • Reliable: Accustomed to following through on commitments
  • Self-Regulating: Able to take care of themselves emotionally and respond rather than react
  • Victim Sensitive: Willing to confront criminal thinking and victim-blaming
Contact Carol Plante at 802-522-5566 or cplante@montpelier-vt.org to learn more about volunteering.