ALTON — Debra Thomas, a Godfrey grandmother and “concerned citizen,” is sending out a call for volunteers and support for a mentoring program she wants to start for troubled youths and those who have been incarcerated. She’s looking for area businesses to help sponsor the program and events.
The meeting will be at 2 p.m. Saturday, July 30, at Tabernacle Church, 2621 Amelia St., Alton.
Thomas, who has 20 years’ experience in culinary arts, wants to include a 6-week cooking course in the program. She says young people often are released with little training or education and few skills that could help them move forward in their lives.
In a letter she sent to churches, Thomas recounts how she and a grandson were caught up in the juvenile justice system. Her grandson came to live with her after his mother died unexpectedly in 2011. Unable to cope with her death, he began acting out and spent 18 months in juvenile detention — more than a year of it in solitary confinement.
Over a 4-year period, Thomas states, she paid many visits to the detention center in Edwardsville, where she noticed as many as 30 names listed and some detainees who looked as young as 10.
“I believe we all deserve a second chance, sometime even a third chance,” she said.
Reginald Burrell, minister of Tabernacle Church, said the meeting is to see what the community needs and is willing to do for teens.
For information, contact Debra Thomas at (618) 409-8006 or Reginald Burrell at (618) 954-6104.