Amanda Gardner, a criminal justice and mediation major in our Justice Studies program, has shown a passion for working with vulnerable populations in the criminal justice system. She volunteers with the Maine Volunteer Lawyers Project, which helps low income families in Maine with civil legal issues, and provides free legal information, assistance, and representation. She has started a weekly mentoring program with women inmates in the Knox County Jail. Ms. Gardner has also helped open Ruth's Haven, a re-entry program for individuals who have been released from jail or prison and have addiction. Through this work, Ms. Gardner seeks to provide a safe environment for people to live and receive support as they transition back into the community. Ms. Gardner hopes to build on this work with the network, skills, and resources she gains as a Newman Civic Fellow. She has our full support. We know she will represent UMA well.
I got involved with helping address the recidivism rate in Maine and learning about the addiction epidemic while growing up. As a daughter of a Correction Officer I would always see the same people incarcerated and saw a need in my community. Growing up my mother would tell me to give people second chances, even coming from jails or prisons. That’s when I knew it was my time to change the outlook on incarnation. I joined a non-profit called Penobscot Bay Ministries where their vision was to open a re-entry house for women getting out of incarnation and become members of our communities again. I took charge of this idea; In August 2017 Ruth’s Haven opened. With a focus on helping women who have addiction to get out of jail and prison and into a safe home, finding a job, and their way back to their children in a safe and supportive way. With the support of myself and the Board, women can help decrease their chances of going back to their addiction or incarnation and instead go back to being members of our community. I have seen the powerful work on how a second chance can change someone's life.