Helping America's Most Vulnerable

The Strive Program at Maine Coast Regional Reentry

Strive leaders (Back L to R:) Roland Pease, Certified Strive Trainer; Jerome Weiner, Volunteers of America Program Director Reentry Center; Sheriff Jeff Trafton Waldo County; Captain Robert Walker, Resident Manager Waldo County Corrections; John Fitzgerald, Certified Strive Trainer and Volunteers of America Case Manager; Tom Rodman, Co-Founder of Strive; Ray Porter, Corrections Administrator Waldo County; Allen Fernald, Chairman Downeast Enterprises; Shannon Klein, Resource Coordinator Volunteers of America and Strive Trainer. (Front L. to R:) Patty Olds, Volunteers of America Manager of Marketing, Wendelanne Augunas, Strive NNE Board Director Betsy Clemens-Saltonstall.

The folks in the picture above are essential to the story that follows, but the REAL stars are the residents of the Belfast Reentry Center who are in the Strive program.

The skies were grey and the air was chilly the March morning that the Maine Coastal Regional Reentry Center had an open house to introduce the public to the Strive program. Beginning with a warm welcome and round of handshakes at the secure entrance, and continuing with a guided tour of the facility, the men that greeted the public were smartly dressed in suits and ties and spoke with pride and confidence in their program. They spoke effusively about the reentry program and the honor of being given a second chance in life. And they spoke with awe about the Strive program and the skills they were acquiring through classes and practical application of knowledge.

Tom Rodman, cofounder of Strive International (photo, left), hosted the reception. He said: "This is a life-changing program disguised as a work preparation program. I am excited that we are now growing Strive here in Maine."

John Fitzgerald (photo, right), case manager at the reentry center, said, "I've always said to the guys, 'I believe in you but you have to believe in yourself more.' The Strive program compliments our reentry program nicely, helping the guys to discover and believe in their potential."

Comments among residents were upbeat and respectful: "Volunteers of America has invested in us and we want to give back by getting jobs and being productive"..."I am going to school to learn welding and pipefitting so I can support my family like I should have been before I got into trouble"..."Having someone believe in you makes a huge difference in your life and you want to make them and yourself proud"..."I feel good about myself for the first time. I feel like I can go out in public and know how to act. I can apply for a job and know that it was important to apply even if I don't get the job."

Jake, a tall young man who disclosed he had been fighting drug addiction for years, said, "I was dressed in a shirt and tie and walked into a McDonalds to use the restroom and the person behind the counter said, 'Can I help you, sir?' and I looked around to see who he was talking to and it was me! No one has ever called me sir in my life."

The Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates the national recidivism (re-arrest after serving out original sentence) rate to be close to 75% after 5 years. The recidivism rate at Maine Coastal Regional Reentry Center program is right around 31%. Although staff members are humble and quick to attribute successes to the residents, this is something to shout to the world!

for more information on our reentry programs, visit

for information about the Strive program, visit