Volunteers needed to bring hope to incarcerated teens

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Straight Ahead Ministries, a Christian non-profit group, is looking for more men and women of faith whom might be interested in a volunteer effort for weekly Bible studies and prayer groups within teen detention and residential living centers in Connecticut.

The group visits teens in nearby centers such as Manson Youth Institution in Cheshire and St. Agnes home in West Hartford. The mission is to bring hope, comfort and healing to the approximately 700 teens in detention throughout the state.

“When I was first asked to visit a group home to lead a Bible study, I thought there’s no way I can do this-I’d never worked with teens or led a group study, let alone with at-risk kids,” Straight Ahead’s Connecticut coordinator Jessica Kastner said in an organization press release. “But it’s been one of the most rewarding, meaningful experiences of my life….and there’s such a huge need.”

Kastner, a Southington resident, said common misconceptions about prison work have been a challenge for volunteer recruitment. Most people have a bleaker, negative image what it’d be like visiting kids in detention centers, but most all change their minds when they start volunteering.

“Most of these kids aren’t ill-willed ‘criminals.’ They’re just children raised with zero love, attention or guidance to stop them from making bad decisions,” Kastner said in the release. “So many of them immediately respond to hearing there’s a God who loves them unconditionally, and considers their lives precious.”

Volunteers are needed for facilities, including the Juvenile Training School. Visits are scheduled according the each volunteer’s location and availability. The commitment is one hour, once a week. For more information, contact Jessica Kastner at Jessica@straightahead.org or visit the website at www.straightahead.org.

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