COMMUNITY SERVANTS Fresh Start Mentoring recruits volunteers from churches, trains them to mentor with coaching skills, and matches them with clients for mentoring/coaching. We are a faith-based 501 ( c ) 3 that also contracts with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office to provide a chaplain for the Pinellas County Jail. Since 2006, Chaplain Herb Schluderberg has served in the jail, where his desire to help people reentering the community led to the mentoring ministry.
76% SUCCESS RATE In 2009, Fresh Start began mentoring people in Pinellas County on probation. Highly successful, the ministry has graduated nearly 300 probationers with a success rate of 76%--those who completed the mentoring and got their certificate did not commit another crime. (The national recidivism rate--those released from incarceration who are rearrested—is 60-80%.)
GROWING AND DIVERSIFIED Fresh Start began mentoring clients in the Clearwater Probation Office but rapidly spread to St Petersburg, Largo, Pinellas Park, and Tarpon Springs—that is, all of Pinellas County. Now we are in Pasco County. A quick look at the “Programs” section shows we have not only grown geographically but also in programs offered: adult probationer mentoring, juvenile mentoring, juvenile crime prevention mentoring, and family mentoring. (To protect mentors, Fresh Start does not mentor violent offenders or sexual predators. Men mentor men, women mentor women.)
WIDESPREAD SUPPORT Fresh Start enjoys the partnership of a dozen churches, foundations, businesses, the Sixth Judicial Court, the Florida Department of Corrections, and the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. Its nearly 100 mentors are recognized as spiritual guides who not only work to help clients achieve their goals but also pray and share their testimonies with those who are open to discussions of faith.
THE STORY In 2009 Chaplain Herb and co-founder Chaplain Dan Huntington were having coffee in a café wondering how they could get a man of influence involved in “our ideas” of Fresh Start. “By chance” a judge of the Sixth Circuit Court was sitting nearby. To our delight, Judge Frank Quesada stated that he was the Probation Judge. He now sits on our board and provides critical insight and advice. Hmmm, amazing how “chance” seems to work for us faith-based folk!
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