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Table of Contents

Section 1: Program Background

1.1 History of the Buffalo Veteran’s Court Diversion Project.......................................................4
1.2 History of the Veteran’s Mentoring Program..........................................................................4
1.3 Special Thanks.........................................................................................................................5
1.4 Mission Statement of the Veteran’s Mentoring Program.........................................................5
1.5 Vision Statement of the Veteran’s Mentoring Program...........................................................5
1.6 Mentor Coordinator Job Description.......................................................................................6
1.7 Volunteer Mentor Job Description...........................................................................................7

Section 2: Policies

2.1 Recruitment Policy..................................................................................................................8
2.2 Inquiry Policy..........................................................................................................................8
2.3 Eligibility Policy......................................................................................................................8
2.4 Screening Policy......................................................................................................................9
2.5 Training Policy........................................................................................................................9
2.6 Matching Policy.....................................................................................................................10
2.7 Mentoring Contact Policy......................................................................................................10
2.8 Supervision Policy.................................................................................................................10
2.9 Recognition Policy.................................................................................................................11
2.10 Record-Keeping Policy........................................................................................................11
2.11 Confidentiality Policy..........................................................................................................11
2.12 Unacceptable Behavior Policy.............................................................................................12
2.13 Evaluation Policy.................................................................................................................12

Section 3: Procedures

3.1 Recruitment Procedure...........................................................................................................13
3.2 Informational Sessions Procedure..........................................................................................13
3.3 Screening and Selection Procedures......................................................................................14
3.4 Training Procedures...............................................................................................................15
3.5 Shift Selection Procedure.......................................................................................................16
3.6 Matching Procedures.............................................................................................................16
3.7 Mentoring Contact Procedures..............................................................................................16
3.8 Mentoring Procedures............................................................................................................17
3.9 Supervision Procedure...........................................................................................................18
3.10 Recognition Procedures.......................................................................................................18
3.11 Record-Keeping Procedures................................................................................................19
3.12 Unacceptable Behavior Procedures.....................................................................................20
3.13 Evaluation Procedures.........................................................................................................20

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Section 4: Attachments

Attachment A: Application Form.................................................................................................21
Attachment B: Information Sheet................................................................................................24
Attachment C: Informational Session; “Mentoring Makes a Difference”...................................27
Attachment D: Interview Questionnaire......................................................................................29
Attachment E: Training Checklist................................................................................................32
Attachment F: Communication Skills Training...........................................................................34
Attachment G: Shadowing Observation Form.............................................................................62
Attachment H: New Mentor Observation Form..........................................................................64
Attachment I: Mentoring Contact Cards......................................................................................66
Attachment J: Group Supervision Outline...................................................................................68
Attachment K: Mentoring Evaluation Form................................................................................70
Attachment L: Supervision Evaluation Form..............................................................................72

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Section 1: Program Background

1.1 History of the Buffalo Veteran’s Court Diversion Project

The Buffalo Veterans Court held its first session in January of 2008. Although the first session
was held in 2008, the concept began back in 2007. Throughout in first six months of 2007,
Judge Russell noticed that more than 300 veterans passed through the court system in Buffalo.
This statistic encouraged Judge Russell to develop the Veterans Diversion Court.

1.2 History of the Veteran’s Mentoring Program

Judge Russell has also noticed that the veterans that had passed through his courtroom
previously, exhibited different demeanors depending on who they were speaking with. He
noticed that when a veteran, who had found his or her way into his courtroom, was talking to
another veteran, s/he would be more relaxed and less tense about their situation. These
conversations between veterans were more on the level of friends or peers rather than from a
position of authority or professionalism. Judge Russell saw this change in demeanor as an
opening to make a deeper impact on the lives of the veterans that came into his court.

The first two veterans to act as mentors were the Court Coordinator Hank Pirowski and Veterans
Advocate Jack O’Connor. Since this early time, the pool of mentors has grown and the roles
they fill have expanded. Mr. O’Connor, a member of the Advisory Board for the Buffalo VA
Medical Center, was able to bring together the Medical Center Director, Mr. Michael Finegan,
the Advisory Board, and the Veterans Court Project leadership in order to discuss the Veterans
Court. From this meeting two major determinations were made. The first was that Mr. Finegan
agreed to place a Behavioral Health Supervisor and a secure VA computer in the courtroom.
This allows for immediate benefit eligibility checks and allows for clinical appointments to be
made on the spot. The second outcome was that a core of mentors was formed from the
veteran’s advocates that were part of the Medical Center’s Advisory Board. This allowed the
court to access a group of veterans that were dedicated to the support and care of other veterans.

These members come from a number of Veteran Service Organizations including Vietnam
Veterans of America, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Order of the
Purple Heart, and AMVETS. These members come from a number of governmental departments
and military instillations including New York State Department of Veterans Affairs, Erie County
Departments of Veterans Affairs, Mental Health, and Social Services, the VA Police Force, the
Buffalo Police Force, the 107th Air Refueling Wing, and the Niagara Falls Air Force Base. These
mentors are veterans from several times of combat as well as times of peace.

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1.3 Special Thanks

Although, the first two veterans to act as mentors were Hank Pirowski and Jack O’Connor, the
first person to be a veteran mentor was Mr. Pete Reibel. Unfortunately Mr. Reible passed away
in late November, before the Veterans Court began. Mr. Reible served in the US Army during
the Vietnam War and wished to support other veterans. His family requested that in lieu of
flowers, donations be made to the Buffalo Veterans Court Diversion Project for the mentoring
program. These donations totaled nearly $1000. Chapter 77 of the Vietnam Veterans of
America, where Mr. Reibel was a member, also donated $795 to the Veterans Mentoring
Program in his honor.

1.4 Mission Statement of the Veteran’s Mentoring Program

The Mission of the Veteran’s Mentoring Program is to support the veteran through their
readjustment to civilian life, to assist the veteran navigate through the court, treatment, and VA
systems, and to act as a friend and ally through this difficult time.

1.5 Vision Statement of the Veteran’s Mentoring Program

The Vision of the Veteran’s Mentoring Program is that no one is left behind.

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1.6 Mentor Coordinator Job Description

Mentor Coordinator
Buffalo Veteran’s Court Diversion Project

Main Function:
The role of the Mentor Coordinator is to recruit, train, supervise, and coordinate mentors
within the Veteran’s Court Diversion Program. The Mentor Coordinator will be responsible for
recruiting potential mentors, screening candidates, and selecting individuals to become Veteran
Mentors. The Mentor Coordinator will be responsible for training selected candidates in skills to
facilitate a mentoring session and skills specific to the Veteran’s Court Diversion Program. The
Mentor Coordinator will also be responsible for individual and group supervision as well as
scheduling mentors to be present during the Veteran’s Court proceedings.

Duties and Responsibilities:
1. Recruit and train volunteer Veteran’s Court mentors.
2. Assist in the retention of volunteer mentors.
3. Organize and conduct training for volunteer mentors.
4. Update and revise all training materials.
5. Provide in-service training to staff on current training issues.
6. Maintain volunteer records.
7. Assist in supervision of mentors.
8. Participate individual and group supervision for mentors.
9. Prepare written assessments of training and volunteer supervision.
10. Assist in the development of specialized training projects for the program.
11. Perform all other duties as assigned by direct supervisor.
Qualifications:
The position requires a Bachelor’s Degree in a human service field plus one year experience,
preferably working with veterans or within the court system.

It is preferable that individuals applying for this position are veterans themselves in order to
better understand the concerns of the veterans in the court diversion program and the veterans
who are serving as mentors.

* This is a part-time position.

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1.7 Volunteer Mentor Job Description
Volunteer Veteran Mentor
Buffalo Veteran’s Court Diversion Project
Main Function:
The role of the Volunteer Veteran Mentor is to act as a coach, a guide, a role model, an
advocate, and a support for the individuals s/he is working with. A mentor is intended to
encourage, guide, and support the mentee as s/he progresses through the court process. This will
include listening to the concerns of the mentee and making general suggestions, assisting the
mentee determine what their needs are, and acting as a support for the mentee at a time when
they may feel alone in a way that only another veteran can understand.
Duties and Responsibilities:
• Attend at least one out of every four court sessions which occur on alternating Tuesdays.
• Participate in and lead mentoring sessions with veterans who have come into contact with
the criminal justice system.
• Be supportive and understanding of the difficulties veterans face.
• Assist the veterans as much as possible to resolve their concerns around the court
procedures as well as interactions with the Veteran’s Administration system.
• Be supportive and helpful to the other mentors within the program.
Requirements:
• Be a veteran of one of the branches of the United States Military, including the Army,
Marine Corp, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, or their corresponding Reserve or Guard
branches
• Adhere to all of the Buffalo Veteran’s Court Diversion Project policies and procedures
• Commit to program participation for a minimum of six months
• Complete the required training procedures
• Attend monthly supervision
• Participate in additional trainings throughout time of service
Desirable Qualities:
• Willing listener
• Encouraging and supportive
• Tolerant and respectful of individual differences

For more information or an application, please contact the Buffalo Veteran’s Court Diversion
Project, Mentor Coordinator at 845-2789.

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Section 2: Policies
2.1 Recruitment Policy

It is the policy of the Buffalo Veteran’s Court Diversion Project that there be recruitment
activities for new mentors when necessary. As such, an Annual Review will take place in order
to determine the recruitment goals and recruitment strategies, including number of mentors
needed and at where new mentors should be recruited.

The Mentor Coordinator assumes the majority of the responsibly for recruiting new mentors.
Other member of the Buffalo Veteran’s Court Diversion Project as well as current mentors will
support the Mentor Coordinator in these activities when necessary, including attending and
hosting informational sessions.

2.2 Inquiry Policy

It is the policy of the Buffalo Veteran’s Court Diversion Project that all inquiries around
participation in the mentoring program, outside of an informational session or sharing the
application and information sheet, be directed to the Mentor Coordinator. It will be the
responsibility of the Mentor Coordinator to contact back any prospective mentors within two
weeks of their inquiry.

2.3 Eligibility Policy

It is the policy of the of the Buffalo Veteran’s Court Diversion Project that each mentor must
meet the eligibility criteria in order to participate in the program. Extenuating circumstances
may be reviewed at the discretion of the Mentor Coordinator.

Mentor Eligibility Requirements
• Be a veteran of one of the branches of the United States Military, including the Army,
Marine Corp, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, or their corresponding Reserve or Guard
branches
• To adhere to all of the Buffalo Veteran’s Court Diversion Project policies and procedures
• To commit to program participation for a minimum of six months
• To attend at least one out of every four sessions of the Buffalo Veteran’s Court Diversion
Specialty Court
• To complete the screening process
• To complete the required training procedures
• To attend monthly supervision
• To participate in additional trainings throughout his/her time of service

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2.4 Screening Policy

It is the policy of the Buffalo Veteran’s Court Diversion Project that each potential mentor
completes a screening procedure. The Mentor Coordinator will be responsible for walking each
applicant through the screening procedure.

This procedure will include:
• Completing a written application form
• Completing a personal interview

The decision to accept or reject an applicant will be made by the Mentor Coordinator after the
screening procedure has been completed.

2.5 Training Policy

It is the policy of the Buffalo Veteran’s Court Diversion Project that all mentors complete the
required initial training procedures.

This procedure will include:
• Observe one court session
• Attend communication skills training
• Attend specialized veteran’s court training
• Shadow five mentoring sessions with three different mentors
• Complete shadowing forms for each shadowed mentoring session
• Lead three mentoring sessions while being observed
• Discuss lead mentoring sessions and observation forms
• Complete individual supervision with the Mentor Coordinator

Mentors will also be expected to attend quarterly advanced trainings on selected topics that
present themselves during mentoring sessions.

It is the responsibility of the Mentor Coordinator to plan, develop, and deliver all training
sessions with support from other program staff, current mentors, or other professionals.
Evaluation form will be collected after each training session in order to evaluate and improve the
trainings and the trainer.

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2.6 Matching Policy

It is the policy of the Buffalo Veteran’s Court Diversion Project that the Mentor Coordinator will
match mentors and mentees at each court appearance following the matching procedures. As
mentors are not always present at each court session the Mentor Coordinator will have to match
the available mentors with the mentees in need.
The Mentor Coordinator will make matches based on the following criteria:
• Previous sessions where the mentor and mentee were matched
• Matching branch of service
• Specific skill of a mentor matched to the need of a mentee
• Similar age/gender/ethnicity

The Mentor Coordinator will also take into consideration the requests of the mentors and
mentees, alike, in making matches.

2.7 Mentoring Contact Policy

It is the policy of the Buffalo Veteran’s Court Diversion Project that no contact is made between
mentors and mentees outside of the court selected mentoring sessions. Mentors should not give
out their personal contact information to the mentees. Mentees will be given a general number
for standard business hours and should be told to contact their case managers if they need
immediate assistance or if they would like to get in contact with a specific mentor. The case
managers will serve as the go-between in order to facilitate contact outside of the court selected
mentoring sessions. Mentors may give out their professional information if they work or
volunteer in a program that would be helpful to the veteran outside of the assistance provided by
the court.

2.8 Supervision Policy

It is the policy of the Buffalo Veteran’s Court Diversion Project that mentors will be present for
monthly group supervision sessions. Group supervision will be lead by the Mentor Coordinator
and will cover any concerns shared by mentors as well as a review of any mentee files that are
not meeting the recording standards. Supervision steps are outlined in the Supervision
Procedure.

Concerns that are not appropriate for group supervision may result in individual supervision with
the Mentor Coordinator. These sessions may be initiated by either the mentor or the Mentor
Coordinator.

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2.9 Recognition Policy

It is the policy of the Buffalo Veteran’s Court Diversion Project that all mentors be recognized
for their role in making the program successful. The Mentor Coordinator is responsible for
planning and implementing recognition activities.
Possible recognition activities include:
• An annual recognition event, where mentors are recognized for their length of service to
the mentoring program
• Utilizing outstanding mentors in the recruitment and training of new mentors

2.10 Record-Keeping Policy

Mentor Applications
It is the policy of the Buffalo Veteran’s Court Diversion Project that each step of the application
process be documented and kept in a case file for each potential mentor. All check lists
pertaining to training and observation requirements will also be kept in the case file for each
mentor within the program. These files are to be kept confidential and not shared with anyone
aside from the individuals involved in completing the observation forms and the Mentor
Coordinator. All application and training files will be maintained for seven years after the end of
the individual’s participation in the program. After seven years these files will be shredded and
discarded by the Mentor Coordinator or another approved individual.

Mentoring Contacts
It is the policy of the Buffalo Veteran’s Court Diversion Project that each contact between mentor
and mentee be tracked by the mentor making the contact. Information concerning the contact
between mentor and mentee will be recorded in the contact log, without the inclusion of any
information that should be kept confidential as there is no confidentiality linked to these contact
logs. After a veteran has completed his/her time in the court system and is no longer seeing
mentors, this log will be added to the case file for that individual in the event the individual
returns to the Veteran’s Court Diversion Project.

2.11 Confidentiality Policy

***There should be a confidentiality policy stating what information should be kept confidential,
who has access to confidential materials, what confidential information can be used for, how it
will be kept confidential, and the limits of confidentiality.
***There should be confidentiality for the mentors as well as for the mentees. It will be
important to specifically outline what information should be included and should not be included
in the contact log as well as how information about the mentors will be protected.

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2.12 Unacceptable Behavior Policy

It is the policy of the Buffalo Veteran’s Court Diversion Project that unacceptable behaviors will
not be tolerated while a mentor is participating in the program. Behaviors that do not match with
the mission, vision, goals, or values of the Veteran’s Court Diversion Project will be considered
unacceptable and are prohibited during court proceedings and mentoring sessions.

These behaviors include:
• Unwelcomed physical contact including inappropriate touching, patting, pinching,
punching, or physical assault.
• Unwelcomed physical, verbal, visual, or behavioral behaviors that degrades, shows
hostility, or aversion toward an individual.
• Any attempts to intimidate or coerce an individual.
• Any actions or behaviors that would be considered beyond the role of the mentor.
• Being under the influence of alcohol or any illicit substance while attending court
proceedings.

Any unacceptable behavior, as specified but not limited to the above stated behaviors, will result
in a warning and/or disciplinary action including suspension or termination from the program.

2.13 Evaluation Policy

It is the policy of the Buffalo Veteran’s Court Diversion Project that evaluation will be an
important aspect of determining the effectiveness of the Mentoring Program and for making
continuous improvements to the program. Evaluations will be completed every six months from
both mentees and mentors concerning the effectiveness of the program. Mentees will be
evaluating the effectiveness of the services provided to them and the mentors will be evaluating
the supports provided for them, including trainings and supervision.

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Section 3: Procedures
3.1 Recruitment Procedure

Recruiting mentors can be accomplished in a number of ways. Informational sessions should be
held where interested individuals can attend. Individuals can also meet with the coordinator one-
on-one. Flyers can be posted on bulletin boards in locations where potential mentors may see
them about dates for informational sessions or who to contact if s/he is interested in participating.
Short announcements can also be made at meetings and events where potential mentors may be
present. An application (Attachment A) and an information sheet (Attachment B) should be
distributed to all individuals interested in becoming a mentor.

The application consists of contact information and questions about what has motivated the
individual to want to become a mentor. The information sheet includes a mentor job description,
containing the requirements and procedures for becoming a mentor, the mission and vision
statements for the program, and contact information for the Mentor Coordinator. The application
and the information sheet will allow the program to learn about the potential mentor and will
allow the potential mentor to learn about the program.

3.2 Informational Sessions Procedure

On at least a quarterly basis, either the Mentor Coordinator or a mentor that has been trained by
the Mentor Coordinator will conduct informational sessions where potential mentors can learn
more about the mentoring program and have their questions answered by a knowledgeable
member of the mentoring program. At least one additional mentor should also attend each
informational session in order to share his/her experiences with the potential mentors.

The objectives and agenda for informational sessions, titled “Mentoring Makes a Difference” can
be found as Attachment C.

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3.3 Screening and Selection Procedures

All interested mentors must complete an application (Attachment A) and participate in an
interview with the Mentor Coordinator using the Mentor Interview Questionnaire (Attachment
D) in order to be considered eligible to participate in the mentoring program. This procedure
will be helpful in determining if the applicant has the necessary beginning skills to be
appropriate for the mentoring program.

The Mentor Coordinator will take the following points into consideration when conducting
interviews and selecting new mentors.
• Effective mentors are those individuals who are committed to the mentoring program and
want to be available to support other veterans.
• Effective mentors are able to build relationships with the mentees while maintaining
appropriate boundaries through the use of good communication skills, listening skills,
and the ability to show empathy.
• Communication skills are important to the effectiveness of the mentor/mentee
relationship.
• Training will also be provided around these skills for all mentors, but having a solid
foundation in these skills will allow mentors to further develop their skills through the
trainings that are offered.

Interview Procedure
Brief interviews will be conducted using the Mentor Interview Questionnaire (Attachment D) in
order to determine if each potential mentor is the right fit for the mentoring program. It will be
important to determine if the individual is committed to the mentoring program and has the
appropriate skills in order to be a mentor. The interview also gives the applicant the opportunity
to ask any final questions about the program.

In the interview it will be important to discuss the following points with the applicant. It will be
important to determine what the applicant views the role of the mentor to be from his/her point
of view. It will also be important to cover the skills and characteristics that the applicant views
as important to effective mentoring as well as the individual’s motivation for wanting to become
a mentor. All of this information will be important to the effectiveness of the individual within
the mentoring program.

Selection Procedure
After the interviews have been completed, the coordinator will be responsible for selecting the
most appropriate applicants depending on the number of mentors needed. It may be helpful to
select more than the minimum number of mentors necessary, so that additional mentors have
been trained prior to there being a needed within the program.

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3.4 Training Procedures

All new mentors will be responsible for completing observations, trainings, shadowing, and
supervision upon entering the program.
Each new mentor will be required to complete all of the activities listed on the Mentor Training
Checklist (Attachment E) and outlined here:
• Observe one court session
• Attend communication skills training
• Attend specialized veteran’s court training
• Shadow five mentoring sessions with three different mentors
• Complete shadowing forms for each shadowed mentoring session
• Lead three mentoring sessions while being observed
• Discuss lead mentoring sessions and observation forms
• Complete individual supervision with the Mentor Coordinator

Each new mentor will be required to observe the court proceedings at least once prior to moving
on to shadowing one of the more experienced mentors. After observing the court proceedings,
each new mentor will be expected to shadow five mentoring sessions with at least three different
mentors. This will help the new mentor understand how a mentoring session is expected to take
place and help him/her get a feel for some of the different styles that can be used depending on
the personality of the mentor. During each shadowing exercise, the new mentor will be expected
to complete an observation sheet (Attachment G) to assist him/her with tracking important skills
and methods used by the mentors.

While the observation and shadowing is taking place, the new mentor will be expected to attend
two training sessions, one addressing the general communication skills necessary to conduct a
mentoring session and the other addressing information specific to the Veteran’s Court program.
The general communication skills training will include active listening skills, showing empathy,
and questioning skills (Attachment F). The program specific training will include information
about the court system, the Veteran’s Administration, and paperwork training for tracking
mentoring contacts.

After a new mentor completes both trainings and all of the required observation and shadowing,
s/he will be expected to lead at least three mentoring sessions while being observed by a more
experienced mentor assigned by the coordinator with at least one session being observed by the
coordinator. Observation forms will also be completed in order to track the strengths and need
areas of the new mentor (Attachment H). The observation sheets should be discussed with the
new mentor at the termination of the mentoring session.
The Mentor Coordinator will then conduct individual supervision with the new mentor to asses
the progress of the new mentor. These activities and the accompanying forms will allow the
coordinator to determine if the new mentor is ready to be conducting mentoring sessions on their
own. If the new mentor is found to not be ready to mentor independently, additional shadowing
activities and individual supervision can be used to improve the skills of the new mentor.

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3.5 Shift Selection Procedure

Each month, after group supervision, all mentors will be asked to select shifts for the following
two month period. Mentors are required to attend at least one out of every four court sessions,
one session every two months. Four mentors will be present at every court session, not including
the Mentor Coordinator and any mentors who have not completed their training. When a session
does not have at least four mentors scheduled to attend, the Mentor Coordinator will contact
mentors, who have not selected a shift, in order to fill those spaces.

3.6 Matching Procedures

Prior to the court session, the Mentor Coordinator will gather all of the files for the mentees who
will be seen before the court in that session. It will be the responsibility of the Mentor
Coordinator to match those mentees with the mentors that are available at the court session that
day. The mentee should then be given the option wait for a specific mentor if s/he so chooses.

The Mentor Coordinator will make matches based on the following criteria:
• Previous sessions where the mentor and mentee were matched
• Matching branch of service
• Specific skill of a mentor matched to the need of a mentee
• Similar age/gender/ethnicity
• Requests from mentee or mentor

After a match has been made, the mentee file should be passed along to the selected mentor to
allow him/her to become familiar with the specifics of the mentee’s file and the information from
previous mentoring sessions.

3.7 Mentoring Contact Procedures

Mentors should not give out their personal contact information. Mentors should give out a
general number for standard business hours. Mentors should tell their mentees to contact their
case managers if they need immediate assistance or if they would like to get in contact with a
specific mentor. The case manager will decide whether or not to contact the mentor and the
mentor will be able to determine when to contact back the mentee.

Business cards (Attachment I) with the appropriate contact information and instructions should
be given by each mentor during each mentoring session. The mentor should also verbally
instruct the mentee of the policy and procedure for making contact with the mentor outside of the
court selected sessions.

Mentors may give out their professional information if they work or volunteer in a program that
would be helpful to the veteran outside of the assistance provided by the court. This might
include veteran organizations, such as the VFW or AMVETS, or support organizations, such as
the Military Order of the Purple Heart or the Department of Veterans Affairs.

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3.8 Mentoring Procedures

Role of the Mentor
The role of a mentor is to act as a coach, a guide, a role model, an advocate, and a support for the
individuals s/he is working with. A mentor is intended to encourage, guide, and support the
mentee as s/he progresses through the court process. This will include listening to the concerns
of the mentee and making general suggestions, assisting the mentee determine what their needs
are, and acting as a support for the mentee at a time when they may feel alone in a way that only
another veteran can understand.

Mentors are not…
Mentors are not intended to take on the role of a parent, a professional counselor, a social
worker, or a doctor. Although a mentor will be expected to use some of the skills used by these
professions; listening, supporting, and advising, the level of involvement will be significantly
less as the mentors are not trained professionals. It will be the responsibly of the mentor and the
coordinator to maintain this boundary through group supervision and individual supervision
when necessary.

Concerns around suicide or other self harm, homicide or harm to others, non-compliance with
medications, health or mental health concerns that have not been shared with a health
professional, or anything the mentor is uncomfortable discussing should be seen as outside of the
mentoring role.

When concerns are brought up that fall into any of these categories, the mentor should encourage
the veteran to share the information with an appropriate health care professional. The mentor
can suggest that if the health care professional is present that the mentor will accompany the
veteran and support him/her during the conversation. If the health care professional is not
present, the information should be shared with the case manager through the court or with
another member of the COURTS staff, either by the veteran or by the mentor, prior to the veteran
leaving court.

Mentoring Sessions
Mentoring sessions consist of one-on-one meeting between a mentor and a veteran. Mentoring
sessions are typically short, less then 30 minutes, but could be extended depending on the needs
of the veteran. Mentoring sessions usually consist of questions related to the wellbeing of the
veteran, any needs identified by the veteran or the courts, and any work that is being done by the
veteran, the mentor, or the court to satisfy the identified needs of the veteran.

Mentoring sessions should begin with introductions, if necessary, and then move into questions
about how the veteran is progressing, how things are with the family members that are involved,
and about concerns that were brought up in previous sessions. The majority of the mentoring
session should consist of the mentor supporting the positive changes that the mentee has made
and empathizing with the difficulties that the mentee is experiencing. Sessions should close with
asking if the mentee needs anything or if the mentor or the court can do anything to be helpful to
the mentee.

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3.9 Supervision Procedure

Once a month, the Mentor Coordinator will hold group supervision. This group supervision will
serve as on opportunity for all of the mentors to come together to discuss their concerns, their
successes, and their ideas. Group supervision will last between 60 and 90 minutes, and follow
the general structure of the Group Supervision Outline (Attachment J). Topics to be addressed
during supervision are questions about what to do for a mentee, how to handle a particular
question or situation with a mentee, and any other questions that a mentor may have about
his/her contact with a mentee. The group setting will allow all of mentors to benefit from the
questions and answers that are discussed as well as increasing the number of ideas and strategies
provided around a specific concern or question. The group setting will also allow for the
mentors to praise and support each other.

Supervision will also serve as an opportunity for the Mentor Coordinator to check-in with all of
the mentors as well as allowing for information to be dispelled to the entire group. This would
include changes to the procedures of the program or any changes that need to be made to the way
that paperwork is completed by the mentors. Supervision will serve as an opportunity for case
review both in the process of the cases and in content of the case file.

Individual supervision will also be available to mentors upon request of the mentor or the Mentor
Coordinator. Most concerns should be addressed in group supervision, as to allow for all
mentors to benefit from the information.

3.10 Recognition Procedures

On an annual basis, all mentors will be recognized for their participation in the mentoring
program. A recognition luncheon will be held in order to allow all mentors to be acknowledged
for their hard work and dedication to the program. Award certificates will be presented to all
participants and specialty awards will be developed to recognize participants who have exceeded
expectations and requirements, as determined by the Mentor Coordinator, other members of the
Veteran’s Court Diversion Project, and the other mentors. Length of service to the program will
also be included as a point of achievement for each mentor at each recognition luncheon. All
current mentors and all mentors that completed a minimum of six months of continuous service
within the previous year will be invited to attend the recognition luncheon.

It is the responsibility of the Mentor Coordinator to select a time and location for the recognition
luncheon as well as developing the program for the luncheon and the certificates that are to be
presented to the mentors.

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3.11 Record-Keeping Procedures

Mentor Application and Training Recording
Each step of the application process will be documented and kept in a file for each potential
mentor. After a mentor has been selected, all check lists pertaining to training and observation
requirements will be added to the file. Mentor evaluations will also be kept as part of the file.
These files are intended to serve as a record of the service of the mentor for development
purposes rather than disciplinary purposes.

These files are to be kept confidential and not shared with anyone aside from the individual the
file belongs to and the Mentor Coordinator. Observation forms will be shared at the time of
observation and then placed into the file of the mentor being trained.

Mentoring Contacts
Every contact that occurs between mentor and mentee will be tracked by the mentor making the
contact in the mentee’s contact log. Information concerning the contact between mentor and
mentee will be recorded in the contact log, without the inclusion of any information that should
be kept confidential as there is no confidentiality linked to these contact logs. After the contact
has been logged, the file will be returned to the court for transcription. The court will transcribe
the information in the contact log in order to keep the log legible and free of information that
should not be included. After the written log has been transcribed into an electronic format, the
log will be printed and added to the file so that it can be read by the next mentor working with
that mentee. The hand written log sheets will be kept in a file by the court, if the need ever arises
to return to the original log pages.

After a veteran has completed his/her time in the court system and is no longer seeing mentors,
this log will be added to the case file for that individual to be made available if the individual
returns to the Veteran’s Court Diversion Project.

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3.12 Unacceptable Behavior Procedures

A number of behaviors are considered unacceptable and will not be tolerated while a mentor is
participating in the program. Behaviors that do not match with the mission, vision, goals, or
values of the Veteran’s Court Diversion Project will be considered unacceptable and are
prohibited during court proceedings and mentoring sessions.

These behaviors include:
• Unwelcomed physical contact including inappropriate touching, patting, pinching,
punching, or physical assault.
• Unwelcomed physical, verbal, visual, or behavioral behaviors that degrades, shows
hostility, or aversion toward an individual.
• Any attempts to intimidate or coerce an individual.
• Any actions or behaviors that would be considered beyond the role of the mentor.
• Being under the influence of alcohol or any illicit substance while attending court
proceedings.

Any mentors who observe unacceptable behavior occurring between a mentor and a mentee
should report the incident to the Mentor Coordinator as quickly as possible. The individual
reporting the behavior may be asked to complete a short written statement of whom and what
was observed. It will then be the responsibility of the Mentor Coordinator to look into the
questionable interaction and determine if a warning and/or disciplinary action including
suspension or termination from the program is warranted.

3.13 Evaluation Procedures

Evaluations will be completed every six months from both mentees and mentors concerning the
effectiveness of the mentoring program. Mentees will be evaluating the effectiveness of the
services provided to them by the mentors (Attachment K) and the mentors will be evaluating the
supports provided for them, including trainings and supervision, by the Mentor Coordinator and
each other (Attachment L). Evaluations will also be completed after all trainings that occur for
the mentors in order to determine the effectiveness of the trainings.

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Attachment A:
Volunteer Mentoring
Program
Application

22
Buffalo Veteran’s Court
Volunteer Mentoring Program
Application Form
Date:

Last Name: First Name:

Address:

Email Address:

Phone 1: Home Work Cell

Phone 2: Home Work Cell

Branch of Service: Length of Service:

Occupation:

Are you available on Tuesday afternoons between 2 and 4pm? Yes No

What does being a “mentor” mean to you?

What motivated you to want to participate in Veteran’s Court Mentoring Program?

23
Buffalo Veteran’s Court
Volunteer Mentoring Program
Application Form

What skills and experiences do you bring to the mentoring program that will be helpful to you,
the other mentors, or the veterans in the program?

What are you hoping to take away from volunteering with the Veteran’s Court Mentoring
Program?

Mentors will be expected to participate in observation, training, shadowing, and supervision as
part of their entry into the mentoring program. Mentors will also be expected to attend
additional trainings and monthly group supervision meetings. The Veteran’s Court Mentoring
Program is looking for at least a 6 month commitment from all volunteers prior to entering into
the training program.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Mr. Jack O’Connor Volunteer Coordinator
for the Veteran’s Court Mentoring Program at 858-7345 or by e-mail oconnorj@erie.gov

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Attachment B:
Volunteer Mentoring
Program
Information Sheet

25
Buffalo Veteran’s Court Diversion Project
Mentoring Program Information Sheet
Mission Statement

The Mission of the Veteran’s Mentoring Program is to support the veteran through their
readjustment to civilian life, to assist the veteran navigate through the court, treatment, and VA
systems, and to act as a friend and ally through this difficult time.

Vision Statement

The Vision of the Veteran’s Mentoring Program is that no one is left behind.

Having veterans participate as mentors is an important part of the Veteran’s Court Diversion
Project as there is a bond that occurs between veterans around the values that are shared and the
sacrifices that have been made. There are veterans in the community that are having difficulties
and are in need of support. It is the responsibility of the veteran community to advocate for and
support these veterans that have come into the hardest times and have made contact with the
criminal justice system. Are you ready to take on that responsibility?

The Buffalo Veteran’s Court Diversion Project: Mentoring Program can help you to take the first
steps toward taking on that responsibility. The Mentoring Program offers support and
encouragement for veterans in the court system by spending one-on-one time with the veteran
after they appear during the proceedings of the Veteran’s Specialty Court. These mentoring
session usually do not last longer than 30 minutes and give the veteran the opportunity to bring
up concerns and get feedback and support from another veteran.

Trainings on how to lead a mentoring session, what to ask, how to ask, and how to listen to the
answers, are offered as part of the orientation trainings. In addition, program specific trainings
are also offered as part of the orientation training, including information about the court system
and the VA system.

The Buffalo Veteran’s Court Diversion Project: Mentoring Program also offers support and
supervision to all of the mentors from the Mentor Coordinator as well as from the other mentors
in the program. Support is the main component of the program, for the veterans involved with
the court system as well as the mentors in the program. Supervision occurs on the monthly basis
in a group format to allow mentors to share experiences, ideas, barriers, and advances.
Advanced trainings will also be offered to address concerns voiced during group supervision.

The Mentoring Program is looking for a six month commitment from all volunteer mentors in
order to maintain the program at a level that will be effective in supporting the veterans in the
court system. All potential mentors are required to fill out an application and complete a short
face-to-face interview with the Mentor Coordinator prior to being accepted into the program.
Observational activities, including observing the court proceedings and observing other mentors,
will be completed prior to a new mentor leading a mentoring session.

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Volunteer Veteran Mentor
Position Description
Main Function:
The role of the Volunteer Veteran Mentor is to act as a coach, a guide, a role model, an
advocate, and a support for the individuals s/he is working with. A mentor is intended to
encourage, guide, and support the mentee as s/he progresses through the court process. This will
include listening to the concerns of the mentee and making general suggestions, assisting the
mentee determine what their needs are, and acting as a support for the mentee at a time when
they may feel alone in a way that only another veteran can understand.
Duties and Responsibilities:
• Attend at least one out of every four court sessions which occur on alternating Tuesdays.
• Participate in and lead mentoring sessions with veterans who have come into contact with
the criminal justice system.
• Be supportive and understanding of the difficulties veterans face.
• Assist the veterans as much as possible to resolve their concerns around the court
procedures as well as interactions with the Veteran’s Administration system.
• Be supportive and helpful to the other mentors within the program.
Requirements:
• Be a veteran of one of the branches of the United States Military, including the Army,
Marine Corp, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, or their corresponding Reserve or Guard
branches.
• Adhere to all of the Buffalo Veteran’s Court Diversion Project policies and procedures.
• Commit to program participation for a minimum of six months.
• Complete the required training procedures.
• Attend monthly supervision.
• Participate in additional trainings throughout time of service.
Desirable Qualities:
• Willing listener
• Encouraging and supportive
• Tolerant and respectful of individual differences

For more information or an application, please contact the Buffalo Veteran’s Court Diversion
Project, Mentor Coordinator at 845-2789.

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Attachment C:
Volunteer Mentoring
Program
Information Session
“Mentoring Makes a Difference”

28
“Mentoring Makes a Difference”
The objectives for the informational session are to
• Build engagement between the program and the potential mentors in order to increase
program participation
• Provide basic information about the program including the mission, vision, goals, and
history of the program
• Provide basic information about the role of and expectations for mentors in this program
• Assist potential mentors determine if they are willing and able to continue on into the
screening process

The agenda for the hour long informational session is as follows:
1. Introduction (10 minutes)
a. Each of the presenters will introduce his/her self, including name, branch of
service, and what brought them to the Buffalo Veteran’s Court Diversion Project:
Mentoring Program.
b. Each potential mentor will introduce him/her self, including name, branch of
service, and what motivated them want to join the Buffalo Veteran’s Court
Diversion Project: Mentoring Program.
2. Buffalo Veteran’s Court Diversion Project: Mentoring Program Overview (15 minutes)
a. Give an overview of the mission, vision, goals, and history for the mentoring
program.
b. Give an overview of the mentoring role and expectations for mentors in the
program.
c. Give an overview of the application and screening procedures for the mentoring
program.
3. Mentoring Makes a Difference (20 minutes)
a. Each of the current mentors in attendance will share with the potential mentors
how being a mentor in the Veteran’s Court Diversion Project has positively
impacted him/her self.
b. Each of the current mentors in attendance will share with the potential mentors
how s/he has impacted the mentees that s/he has worked with.
4. Question and Answer (10 minutes)
a. Give all potential mentors the opportunity to ask questions about the program, the
mentoring role, and the expectations for mentors.
b. Allow current mentors to ask and answer questions that they previously had about
the program in order to stimulate questioning.
5. Wrap-up (5 minutes)
a. Thank the potential mentors for their attendance and attention.
b. Provide application forms and information sheets for potential mentors to take
with them.

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Attachment D:
Volunteer Mentoring
Program
Mentor Interview
Questionnaire

30
Buffalo Veteran’s Court
Volunteer Mentoring Program
Mentor Interview Questionnaire

Applicant Name: Date:

Interview Conducted by:

I need to ask a number of questions about you that will help me determine if you fit with the
mission, vision, goals, and values of the Buffalo Veteran’s Court Diversion Project: Mentoring
Program. Do you understand?

1. What motivated you to become a mentor?

2. How do you think you will be helpful to the veterans that you mentor?

3. What do you think are your strengths?

4. What do you think are some areas you need to improve on?

5. Are you willing and able to fulfill the commitments of the program – attending one out of
every four court proceedings and attending all of the required trainings and supervision
sessions for a minimum of six months?

6. What skills and experience do you bring that will be helpful to your fellow mentors and the
veterans you mentor?

31
Buffalo Veteran’s Court
Volunteer Mentoring Program
Mentor Interview Questionnaire

Applicant Name: Date:

Interview Conducted by:

7. What does being a mentor mean to you?

8. What do you hope to gain from the experience?

9. What do you hope your mentees gain from working with you?

10. Do you have any questions about the program that I can answer for you?

Interviewers Comments:

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Attachment E:
Volunteer Mentoring
Program
Mentor Training
Checklist

33
Buffalo Veteran’s Court
Volunteer Mentoring Program
Mentor Training Checklist

Starting Date:

Last Name: First Name:

Phase 1. The following activity must be completed prior to moving to Phase 2.

One Courtroom Observation Date: MC Initials:

Phase 2. The following activities must be completed prior to moving to Phase 3.

Communication Skills Training Date: MC Initials:

Specialized Court Training Date: MC Initials:

Shadow Mentoring Session Date: VM Initials: Form

Shadow Mentoring Session Date: VM Initials: Form

Shadow Mentoring Session Date: VM Initials: Form

Shadow Mentoring Session Date: VM Initials: Form

Shadow Mentoring Session Date: VM Initials: Form

Phase 3. The following activities must be completed prior to moving to Phase 4.

Lead Mentoring Session Date: VM Initials: Form

Lead Mentoring Session Date: VM Initials: Form

Lead Mentoring Session Date: MC Initials: Form

Phase 4. The following activity must be completed prior to moving to Phase 5.

Complete Individual Supervision Date: MC Initials:

Phase 5. Independent Mentoring. Congratulations!

MC = Mentor Coordinator VM = Veteran Mentor

34
Attachment F:
Volunteer Mentoring
Program
Communication Skills
Training

35
Communication Skills Training Outline
Session Title: Mentoring Communication Skills

Objectives:
To teach new mentors the communication skills necessary for them to be able to conduct
effective mentoring sessions, through good listening skills, showing empathy through
paraphrasing, and using effective questioning techniques.

Agenda
1. Icebreaker: Introductions (15 minutes)
2. What is a mentor? (15 minutes)
a. A mentor is …
b. A mentor is not …
3. Active Listening Skills (30 minutes)
a. Non-verbal listening skills
b. Verbal listening skills
c. Active listening activities

BREAK (10 minutes)

4. Empathy Through Paraphrasing (45 minutes)
a. What is empathy?
b. What is paraphrasing?
c. How are empathy and paraphrasing helpful?

BREAK (10 minutes)

5. Questioning Techniques (45 minutes)
a. Purpose of questioning
b. Types of questions
c. Putting it all together
6. Wrap up (15 minutes)
a. What is next?
b. Questions
c. Evaluation of the training

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1. Icebreaker: Introduction (10 minutes)

The group of individuals attending this training may or may not know each other or may not
know each other well. It will be important to begin building group trust that will allow all
member of the group to be engaged with the group and the work that needs to be accomplished.

Purposes:

1. To encourage the group members to get to know each other better.
2. To begin involving the trainees in the training process.
3. To begin thinking about listening and communication skills.

Icebreaker Activity

Ask the group make partners. They should select someone they do not know at all or that they
do not know well. Ask the partners to take turns introducing themselves to their partners and
sharing information about themselves for about two minutes and then switch. Remind the group
that part of this training will be about listening skills.

After each member of the partnership has had the opportunity to introduce him or herself, bring
everyone back together into a large group. Ask each member of the group to introduce their
partner to the group. How much did the partners remember about each other? Did they use any
strategies to remember information about the other person?

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2. Role of a Mentor

Ask the group to work for a few minutes answering the questions on the first page of their
training packets about the role of a mentor. After 5 minutes ask the group how they answered the
first two questions, one at a time.

Question 1: What does the word “mentor” mean to you?
Question 2: What roles do mentors fill?

As the group answers, write the key words onto an overhead or flip chart so that the group can
see the words that have been used.

The next page of the flip chart should have a list of all of the key words from the following
statement. Most of these key words should be generated by the group.
• Coach
• Guide Someone who…
• Role Model • Encourages
• Advocate • Guides
• A support • Understands
• Listens
Share any ideas from the statement that the group does not suggest on their own.

Role of the Mentor
The role of a mentor is to act as a coach, a guide, a role model, an advocate, and a support for the
individuals s/he is working with. A mentor is intended to encourage, guide, and support the
mentee as s/he progresses through the court process. This will include listening to the concerns
of the mentee and making general suggestions, assisting the mentee determine what their needs
are, and acting as a support for the mentee at a time when they may feel alone.

Then ask the group how they answered the third question.

Question 3: What roles do mentors not fill?

As the group answers, write the key words onto an overhead or flip chart so that the group can
see the words that have been used.

The next page of the flip chart should have a list of all of the key words from the following
statement. Most of these key words should be generated by the group.
• A parent • A social workers
• A professional counselor • A doctor

Share any ideas from the statement that the group does not suggest on their own, especially the
ideas that supervision will be helpful in maintaining appropriate boundaries and to bring
concerns to the court personnel if something comes up that is outside of the scope of the mentor.

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Mentors are not…
Mentors are not intended to take on the role of a parent, a professional counselor, a social
worker, or a doctor. Although a mentor will be expected to use some of the skills used by these
professions; listening, supporting, and advising, the level of involvement will be significantly
less as the mentors are not trained professionals.
It will be the responsibly of the mentor and the coordinator to maintain this boundary through
group supervision and individual supervision when necessary.

Then ask the group to share their answers for the fourth question.

Question 4: What are some concerns that would be outside of the scope of the mentoring role?

The next page of the flip chart should have a list of all of the key words from the following
statement. Most of these key words should be generated by the group.

• Suicide or other self harm • Health or mental health concerns that
• Homicide or harm to others have not been shared with a health
• Non-compliance with medication professional.

When concerns are brought up that fall into any of these categories, the mentor should encourage
the veteran to share the information with an appropriate health care professional. The mentor
can suggest that if the health care professional is present that the mentor will accompany the
veteran and support him/her during the conversation. If the health care professional is not
present, the information should be shared with the case manager through the court or with
another member of the COURTS staff, either by the veteran or by the mentor, prior to the veteran
leaving court.

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3. Active Listening

Active listening involves both verbal and non-verbal components that help the mentee know that
they are being listened to and that the mentor is involved in the discussion. Displaying these
verbal and non-verbal components will help the mentee feel more comfortable and more willing
to share information with the mentor.

Non-verbal Components
Non-verbal components of active listening include
• eye contact
• open and relaxed body posture
• slight inward lean
• head nodding
• appropriate affective responses; laughing, smiling, or concern
These behaviors let the mentee know that the mentor is actively listening to what is being said.

Verbal Components
• Minimal encouragement; uh-huh, so, sure
• Verbal following; making statements that follow from the preceding statements made by
the mentee
Minimal encouragements include short statements like “uh-huh,” “so,” “sure,” which let the
mentee know that the mentor is still listening while allowing the mentee to continue talking
without being interrupted. Verbal following involves the mentor making statements that follow
from the preceding statements made by the mentee. This creates continuity and shows that the
mentor is listening to the mentee. Using this skill also helps the mentor to not interrupt the
mentee and helps the mentor to stay on track and not shift topic unexpectedly.

Active Listening Activity

Part 1
Explain that the group is going to observe a role-play demonstrating good active listening skills
and not so good active listening skills. They will have to determine which one is which. Select a
volunteer to act as the “mentee” in the role play, while the “mentor” is played by the trainer. Ask
the “mentee” to tell you a story about a recent event that happened. It doesn’t have to be
something personal, just a story about the person.

Ask the group to keep track of what the “mentor” does well and what the “mentor” does not do
well on their handouts. Try to determine which role-play is the good active listening role-play
and which is not.

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Role-play A: Less than 5 minutes
While the “mentee” is telling the story, the “mentor” should display non-attending behavior, by
not looking at the “mentee”, having crossed arms and/or legs, slouching in his/her chair, and
looking disinterested in the story the “mentee” is telling. The “mentor” should also interrupt and
ask a question that is unrelated to what the “mentee” has been saying.

After the role-play is terminated, ask the group which role-play was just demonstrated. They
should respond that it was the not so good active listening skills. Ask the “mentee” how s/he felt
during the role-play. S/he should respond that s/he did not feel heard or that the “mentor” did not
care about what s/he was saying. We don’t want to be that mentor!

Role-play B: Less than 5 minutes
Again ask the volunteer to act as the “mentee” and tell you a story. This time the “mentor”
should display attentive, active listening skills; eye contact, open body language, and use
minimal encouragers. The “mentor” should also appropriately ask a question related to the story
the “mentee” is telling them.

After the role-play is terminated, ask the group what they thought of that role-play. What did the
“mentor” do well? Ask the “mentee” how s/he felt during that role-play. What was different
from the first role-play?

Part 2
Ask the trainees to break up into partners, different from their partners from either, but again
someone that they do not know well. Ask each group to take turns sharing a story and practicing
their active listening skills. Remind them that since this is a listening exercise, they will be
asked to retell their partner’s story later.

After the groups have been working for 5 minutes, remind them to switch roles. Throughout the
activity, move from group to group checking on each group’s progress. After the time period is
up, bring the group back together and ask for a few volunteers to retell their partner’s story.
After a few stories, ask the group if they felt this was an easy thing to do or if they had a hard
time. Validate their feelings either way. Listening can be a really hard thing to do. The listener
has to focus and listen actively in order to take in the information and help the speaker to feel
heard. Or some people might think it was easy. That is good, that means they already use these
skills and are an active listener. Do they do anything that they have found to be helpful with
active listening?

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4. Empathy through Paraphrasing

Part 1.
Ask the group to work for a few minutes answering the questions on the next page of their
training packets about empathy. After 5 minutes ask the group how they answered the first two
questions, one at a time.

Question 1: What does empathy mean?
Question 2: What role does empathy play in mentoring sessions?

As the group answers, write the key words onto an overhead or flip chart so that the group can
see the words that have been used. The next page of the flip chart should have a list of all of the
key words from the following statement. Most of these key words should be generated by the
group.

Empathy is the sense of sharing feelings with someone else. This is accomplished through being
present in the moment and non-judgmentally observing the thoughts and feelings within one’s
self, while also observing the other person’s feelings, needs, requests, and perspective.
“I understand how that would be difficult.” “That must have been really frustrating for you?”

Empathy is different from offering advice, educating, consoling, telling a story, interrogating,
explaining, correcting, or reassuring. Empathy requires a willingness to understand the thoughts
and feelings of another individual without concern for the correctness or the accuracy of those
thoughts and feelings. You may not agree with his/her feelings, but you understand his/her
feelings and what, from his/her perspective, contributes to those feelings.

42
Part 2.
Ask the group how they answered the next three questions, one at a time.

Question 3: What does paraphrasing mean?
Question 4: How is paraphrasing helpful in mentoring sessions?
Question 6: How are verbal and non-verbal active listening skills used to show empathy?

As the group answers, write the key words onto an overhead or flip chart so that the group can
see the words that have been used. The next page of the flip chart should have a list of all of the
key words from the following statement. Most of these key words should be generated by the
group.

Paraphrasing involves the mentor repeating back the important aspects of the previous statement
made by the mentee in their own words, while incorporating the non-verbal communication and
tone into the statement back. This serves many purposes. This statement back of content,
feeling, or both, lets the mentee know that the mentor is listening and interested in what the
mentee is saying to him/her. This statement also shows that the mentor understands what is
being said and how the mentee feels.

Here are some examples of how to begin a paraphrasing statement.
• I hear you saying that … • In other words…
• It seems to me… • It seems to me…
• Okay, let me see if I am hearing • If I am hearing you correctly…
you…

The paraphrasing statement also opens up the opportunity for the mentee to disagree, clarify, or
give additional information. This is not only helpful for the mentor to make sure they understand
what is being said, but is also helpful for the mentee as it can help the mentee reflect upon what
s/he said when hearing it stated back to him/her.

Using paraphrasing allows a mentor to show empathy for a mentee. By using the lead-ins
provided, mentors can show that they are trying to understand the situation that the mentee is in,
in a non-judgmental way.

Empathy can also be expressed through verbal and especially non-verbal components of active
listening. By maintaining appropriate eye-contact, nodding along with a story, and displaying
appropriate facial expressions, a mentor can express a great deal emotion to a mentee without
even saying a word. Combining these behaviors with short verbal expressions can further
increase the feelings of empathy.

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5. Questioning Techniques

Ask the group, before they turn to the next page, what reasons are there to ask questions?
After they answer, allow them to turn the page to find information about the purposes of
questions and the types of questions.

Questioning serves a number of purposes. It allows for information to be gathered, to clarify
information, to encourage the mentee to participate in the session, and to help the mentee clarify
his/her situation for his/her benefit. Questioning is also helpful to get things started. Asking
about how things are going will usually get an individual going and participating in the
discussion.

Questions can be either opened or closed questions. Open questions invite an explanation where
closed questions are either yes or no answers or require some other specific answer such as age
or marital status. Questions should be open ended for the most part, allowing for the mentee to
take the conversation to the area of the most concern for him/her and allowing the mentee to
share additional information about the topic. There are instances when closed questions may be
appropriate, such as times when specific information is needed or in order to clarify something
that has been said. Ideally questions should build from something said by the mentee in the
previous exchange or regarding previous information that was gathered.

Standard Questions:
• How are things going?
• How are things with ___________? (insert significant family member)
• How did it work out with _________?
• What can I be helpful with?
• Can you tell me more about that?
• What have you done before that was helpful?
• What do you want to do next?

Ask the group to develop some more questions that would be helpful when working with the
mentees.

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Putting it all Together
These steps are intended to assist the mentor in supporting the mentee by having someone who is
listening and understanding of their concerns.

Step 1: Question
The first step is to ask an opening question. This is usually something open-ended which
would allow the mentee to take the session in a direction that will be most helpful for
them.
How are things going?
How are things with ___________? (insert significant family member)
This opening question could also be checking in on something that was discussed in a
pervious session.
How did it work out with _________?

Step 2: Empathize
The next step is to empathize with the mentee by being present. This means not saying
anything and listening fully and carefully. This also requires not formulating a response
until the mentee has completed their statements.

Step 3: Paraphrase
The third step is to paraphrase the mentee’s statement. This expresses that you heard
him/her say and gives him/her an opportunity to clarify if you misunderstood what s/he
was saying, how s/he was feeling, or what s/he was thinking about.

Step 4: Clarify
In the event that you are still not clear or you want additional information about
something, you can use a statement similar to this one:
“I am still a little confused. Can you tell me more about that?”

Step 5: Question
This brings the cycle back to questioning. After you have gained a clear picture of the
situation from the mentee’s point of view, through empathizing, paraphrasing, and
clarifying, it is time to ask another question. The best questions are developed out of the
most recent previous statement in the discussion. This helps to keep the discussion fluid
and lets the mentee know that you are listening.

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Communication Skills
Role Play
Purpose:
This role play is intended to give the group the opportunity to incorporate all of the
information they have learned into a mentoring session situation. It will be important for the
group to remember to use their active listening skills, their empathic skills, their paraphrasing
skills, and their questioning skills in order to be the most effective mentors that they can be.

Activity:
Ask the group to divide themselves into groups of three in order to complete the communication
skills role play. Each group will have a mentor, a mentee, and an observer. The tasks will rotate
until everyone has had a turn to fill each of the three roles. Give each group one of the two role
plays. The Communication Skills Role Play Observation Form that is part of the training packet,
should be filled out by the observer during each of the role play rotations. Each role play
rotation should last approximately five minutes. Allow a few minutes for discussion in between
each rotation for the observer to share their thoughts will the mentor.

Discussion:
After all three rotations have occurred; ask the group to come back together. Ask the
group what they observed their mentor doing that was really good. Ask that observer how that
skill will impact how they mentor in the future.

Ask the group how they felt about the role plays; were they confident, are they more
confident now?

Final Questions:

Ask the group to answer the following question; what have you learned during this training that
will help you when you begin mentoring? How will this be helpful in a mentoring session?

46
Role Play 1
Billy, 24, was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps six months ago.
Since that time, Billy has not been able to hold down a job and is currently
unemployed. While Billy was in a Marine Corps, he was deployed to Iraq twice in
the last three years. Six weeks ago, Billy was arrested at a local bar for assault.
His case was transferred into the Veteran’s Court Diversion Program at that time.
This is the second time that you are seeing Billy and during your first
meeting Billy reported that his mom is trying to be supportive and wants to be
involved in helping him get back on track. He also reported that “she just doesn’t
understand what it is like.” How does the first five minutes of this mentoring
session with Billy look?

47
Role Play 2
Sam was honorably discharged from the Army in 1973, after spending time
in Vietnam. Sam had been working as a mechanic since his discharge in 1973 until
he was forced to retire due to an injury he sustained three years ago, which
exacerbated an injury he received while in Vietnam. Since then he has had trouble
making ends meet and has started drinking heavily. He was arrested two months
ago for a domestic violence offense against his wife of 35 years, Carol. His case
was transferred into the Veteran’s Court Diversion Program six weeks ago. Carol
is still living with Sam and is supportive of his efforts to change. Sam is skeptical
of the VA system and has not been in touch with them about his situation.
This is the first time that a mentor is meeting with Sam. How does the first
five minutes of this mentoring session look?

48
Communication Skills Role Play
Observation Form
Date:

Mentor:

Observer:

Strengths – What are the important skills that the mentor used?

1.

2.

3.

Alternatives – What might you have done differently?

1.

2.

3.

Additional Comments:

49
Please share your observations with the mentor and discuss alternative options for aspects of the
mentoring session.

50
6. Wrap up

What is Next?

 Observe one court session
 Attend communication skills training
 Attend specialized veteran’s court training
 Shadow five mentoring sessions with three different mentors
 Complete shadowing forms for each shadowed mentoring session
• Lead three mentoring sessions while being observed
• Discuss lead mentoring sessions and observation forms
• Complete individual supervision with the Mentor Coordinator

Questions from the group

Please complete the training evaluation.

Thank you for your attention and participation!

51
Buffalo Veteran’s Court
Volunteer Mentoring Program
Communication Skills Training
Evaluation
Trainer: Date:

What did you find to be most useful about this training?

What did you find to be least useful?

Was there anything you felt was missing that you would have liked to learn more about?

Please rate the following: Poor Average Excellent
Effectiveness of trainer 1 2 3 4 5
Training room 1 2 3 4 5
Training content 1 2 3 4 5
Training activities 1 2 3 4 5
Training materials 1 2 3 4 5
Overall rating 1 2 3 4 5

List of other topics or concerns you would like to have addressed in future trainings.

Other comments:

52
Buffalo Veteran’s Court
Diversion Project:
Mentoring Program

Mentoring Communication Skills

Trainee Handbook

53
Veteran’s Mentoring Program
Mentoring Communication Skills

The objective for this training is to assist you to develop the communication skills necessary to
be able to conduct effective mentoring sessions with the veterans that are assigned for you to
mentor. These skills include good listening skills, showing empathy through paraphrasing, and
using effective questioning techniques.

We will begin first with discussing what it means to be a mentor and what it does not mean.
When asked by the trainer, please answer the following questions about being a mentor.

Being a Mentor
What does the word “mentor” mean to you?

What roles do mentors fill?

What roles do mentors not fill?

What are some concerns that would be outside of the scope of the mentoring role?

54
Being a Mentor

Role of the Mentor
• Coach
• Guide Someone who…
• Role Model • Encourages
• Advocate • Guides
• A support • Understands
• Listens

The role of a mentor is to act as a coach, a guide, a role model, an advocate, and a support for the
individuals s/he is working with. A mentor is intended to encourage, guide, and support the
mentee as s/he progresses through the court process. This will include listening to the concerns
of the mentee and making general suggestions, assisting the mentee determine what their needs
are, and acting as a support for the mentee at a time when they may feel alone.

Mentors are not…

Mentors are not intended to take on the role of a parent, a professional counselor, a social
worker, or a doctor. Although a mentor will be expected to use some of the skills used by these
professions; listening, supporting, and advising, the level of involvement will be significantly
less as the mentors are not trained professionals.

Concerns that are outside of the mentoring role include:
• Suicide or other self harm • Health or mental health concerns that
• Homicide or harm to others have not been shared with a health
• Non-compliance with medication professional.

When concerns are brought up that fall into any of the above categories, the mentor should
encourage the veteran to share the information with an appropriate health care professional. The
mentor can suggest that if the health care professional is present that the mentor will accompany
the veteran and support him/her during the conversation. If the health care professional is not
present, the information should be shared with the case manager through the court or with
another member of the COURTS staff, either by the veteran or by the mentor, prior to the veteran
leaving court.

55
Active Listening Skills

Active listening involves both verbal and non-verbal components that help the mentee know that
they are being listened to and that the mentor is involved in the discussion. Displaying these
verbal and non-verbal components will help the mentee feel more comfortable and more willing
to share information with the mentor.

Positive Non-verbal Components
• Eye contact
• Open and relaxed body posture
• Slight inward lean
• Head nodding
• Appropriate responses; laughing, smiling, or concern

Verbal Components
• Minimal encouragement; uh-huh, so, sure
• Verbal following; making statements that follow from the preceding statements made by
the mentee

Active Listening Activity

The trainer is going to conduct a role-play demonstrating good active listening skills and not so
good active listening skills. Please answer the following questions for both role-plays. Can you
tell which is which?

Role-play 1: Active Listening? YES/NO
What did the mentor do well?

What could the mentor have done better?

Role-play 2: Active Listening? YES/NO
What did the mentor do well?

What could the mentor have done better?

56
57
Empathy through
Paraphrasing

What is empathy?

What role does empathy play in mentoring sessions?

What is paraphrasing?

How is paraphrasing helpful in mentoring sessions?

How can active listening skills be used to show empathy?

58
Empathy through
Paraphrasing
Empathy
Empathy is the sense of sharing feelings with someone else. This is accomplished through being
present in the moment and non-judgmentally observing the thoughts and feelings within one’s
self, while also observing the other person’s feelings, needs, requests, and perspective.
“I understand how that would be difficult.” “That must have been really frustrating for you?”

Empathy is different from offering advice, educating, consoling, telling a story, interrogating,
explaining, correcting, or reassuring. Empathy requires a willingness to understand the thoughts
and feelings of another individual without concern for the correctness or the accuracy of those
thoughts and feelings. You may not agree with his/her feelings, but you understand his/her
feelings and what, from his/her perspective, contributes to those feelings.

Paraphrasing
Paraphrasing involves the mentor repeating back the important aspects of the previous statement
made by the mentee in their own words, while incorporating the non-verbal communication and
tone into the statement back. This serves many purposes. This statement back of content,
feeling, or both, lets the mentee know that the mentor is listening and interested in what the
mentee is saying to him/her. This statement also shows that the mentor understands what is
being said and how the mentee feels.

Here are some examples of how to begin a paraphrasing statement.
• I hear you saying that … • In other words…
• It seems to me… • It seems to me…
• Okay, let me see if I am hearing • If I am hearing you correctly…
you…

The paraphrasing statement also opens up the opportunity for the mentee to disagree, clarify, or
give additional information. This is not only helpful for the mentor to make sure they understand
what is being said, but is also helpful for the mentee as it can help the mentee reflect upon what
s/he said when hearing it stated back to him/her.

Using paraphrasing allows a mentor to show empathy for a mentee. By using the lead-ins
provided, mentors can show that they are trying to understand the situation that the mentee is in,
in a non-judgmental way.

Empathy can also be expressed through verbal and especially non-verbal components of active
listening. By maintaining appropriate eye-contact, nodding along with a story, and displaying
appropriate facial expressions, a mentor can express a great deal emotion to a mentee without
even saying a word. Combining these behaviors with short verbal expressions can further
increase the feelings of empathy.

59
Questioning Techniques

Purpose of Questioning
Questioning serves a number of purposes. It allows for information to be gathered, to clarify
information, to encourage the mentee to participate in the session, and to help the mentee clarify
his/her situation for his/her benefit. Questioning is also helpful to get things started. Asking
about how things are going will usually get an individual going and participating in the
discussion.

Types of Questions
Questions can be either opened or closed questions. Open questions invite an explanation where
closed questions are either yes or no answers or require some other specific answer such as age
or marital status.

Questions should be open ended for the most part, allowing for the mentee to take the
conversation to the area of the most concern for him/her and allowing the mentee to share
additional information about the topic. There are instances when closed questions may be
appropriate, such as times when specific information is needed or in order to clarify something
that has been said. Ideally questions should build from something said by the mentee in the
previous exchange or regarding previous information that was gathered.

Standard Questions:
• How are things going?
• How are things with ___________? (insert significant family member)
• How did it work out with _________?
• What can I be helpful with?
• Can you tell me more about that?
• What have you done before that was helpful?
• What do you want to do next?

What are some other questions that could be used with mentees?

60
Putting it all Together

Step 1: Question
The first step is to ask an opening question. This is usually something open-ended which
would allow the mentee to take the session in a direction that will be most helpful for
them.
How are things going?
How are things with ___________? (insert significant family member)
This opening question could also be checking in on something that was discussed in a
pervious session.
How did it work out with _________?

Step 2: Empathize
The next step is to empathize with the mentee by being present. This means not saying
anything and listening fully and carefully. This also requires not formulating a response
until the mentee has completed their statements.

Step 3: Paraphrase
The third step is to paraphrase the mentee’s statement. This expresses that you heard
him/her say and gives him/her an opportunity to clarify if you misunderstood what s/he
was saying, how s/he was feeling, or what s/he was thinking about.

Step 4: Clarify
In the event that you are still not clear or you want additional information about
something, you can use a statement similar to this one:
“I am still a little confused. Can you tell me more about that?”

Step 5: Question
This brings the cycle back to questioning. After you have gained a clear picture of the
situation from the mentee’s point of view, through empathizing, paraphrasing, and
clarifying, it is time to ask another question. The best questions are developed out of the
most recent previous statement in the discussion. This helps to keep the discussion fluid
and lets the mentee know that you are listening.

61
Communication Skills Role Play
Observation Form
Date:

Mentor:

Observer:

Strengths – What are the important skills that the mentor used?

1.

2.

3.

Alternatives – What might you have done differently?

1.

2.

3.

Additional Comments:

62
Please share your observations with the mentor and discuss alternative options for aspects of the
mentoring session.

63
What is Next?

 Observe one court session
 Attend communication skills training
 Attend specialized veteran’s court training
• Shadow five mentoring sessions with three different mentors
• Complete shadowing forms for each shadowed mentoring session
• Lead three mentoring sessions while being observed
• Discuss lead mentoring sessions and observation forms
• Complete individual supervision with the Mentor Coordinator

Questions

Please complete the training evaluation.

Thank you for your attention and
participation!

64
Buffalo Veteran’s Court
Volunteer Mentoring Program
Communication Skills Training
Evaluation
Trainer: Date:

What did you find to be most useful about this training?

What did you find to be least useful?

Was there anything you felt was missing that you would have liked to learn more about?

Please rate the following: Poor Average Excellent
Effectiveness of trainer 1 2 3 4 5
Training room 1 2 3 4 5
Training content 1 2 3 4 5
Training activities 1 2 3 4 5
Training materials 1 2 3 4 5
Overall rating 1 2 3 4 5

List of other topics or concerns you would like to have addressed in future trainings.

Other comments:

65
Attachment G:
Volunteer Mentoring
Program
Shadowing Observation
Form

66
Shadowing Observation Form
Date:

Mentor:

Observer:

Strengths – What are the important skills that the mentor used?

1.

2.

3.

Alternatives – What might you have done differently?

1.

2.

3.

Additional Comments:

Please share your observations with the mentor and discuss alternative options for aspects of the
mentoring session.

67
Attachment H:
Volunteer Mentoring
Program
New Mentor
Observation Form

68
New Mentor Observation
Date:

Mentor:

Observer:

Strengths – What does the mentor do well?

1.

2.

3.

Improvement – Where could the mentor improve?

1.

2.

3.

Additional Comments:

Please share your observations with the mentor and discuss alternative options for aspects of the
mentoring session.

69
Attachment I:
Volunteer Mentoring
Program
Mentor Contact Cards

70
Buffalo Veteran’s Buffalo Veteran’s
Diversion Court Project Diversion Court Project
Mentoring Program Mentoring Program

If you have any questions or concerns If you have any questions or concerns
please contact your case manager please contact your case manager
and s/he will assist you in contacting and s/he will assist you in contacting
a mentor. a mentor.
Phone: 716.845.2789 Phone: 716.845.2789

Buffalo Veteran’s Buffalo Veteran’s
Diversion Court Project Diversion Court Project
Mentoring Program Mentoring Program

If you have any questions or concerns If you have any questions or concerns
please contact your case manager please contact your case manager
and s/he will assist you in contacting and s/he will assist you in contacting
a mentor. a mentor.
Phone: 716.845.2789 Phone: 716.845.2789

Buffalo Veteran’s Buffalo Veteran’s
Diversion Court Project Diversion Court Project
Mentoring Program Mentoring Program

If you have any questions or concerns If you have any questions or concerns
please contact your case manager please contact your case manager
and s/he will assist you in contacting and s/he will assist you in contacting
a mentor. a mentor.
Phone: 716.845.2789 Phone: 716.845.2789

Buffalo Veteran’s Buffalo Veteran’s
Diversion Court Project Diversion Court Project
Mentoring Program Mentoring Program

If you have any questions or concerns If you have any questions or concerns
please contact your case manager please contact your case manager
and s/he will assist you in contacting and s/he will assist you in contacting
a mentor. a mentor.
Phone: 716.845.2789 Phone: 716.845.2789

Buffalo Veteran’s Buffalo Veteran’s
Diversion Court Project Diversion Court Project
Mentoring Program Mentoring Program

If you have any questions or concerns If you have any questions or concerns
please contact your case manager please contact your case manager
and s/he will assist you in contacting and s/he will assist you in contacting
a mentor. a mentor.
Phone: 716.845.2789 Phone: 716.845.2789
Attachment J:
Volunteer Mentoring
Program
Group Supervision Outline
Group Supervision Outline
Greeting and Administration
Greet the group and give any administrative information; when the next group
supervision is, if there is something outside of the norm coming up soon, or if there are any
procedural changes that have been made.

Case Updates
Ask the group to share the outcomes of any of the case questions that were brought up
during previous group supervision sessions. Give the mentors praise for the positive outcomes
they have helped to achieve.

Case Questions
Ask the group how things have been going and if anyone has any question about any of
the mentees that have come up since the last supervision.

Questions to pose to the group to get things started:
• How are things going?
• Are you feeling confident around your skills as a mentor?
• When have you felt confident?
• When have you not felt confident?
• Has anyone had a hard time during a mentoring session?
• Did any questions come up that you could not answer?

Case File Questions
Ask the group if they have any questions about the paperwork or questions around what
to include and what not to include. This is also the opportunity for the Mentor Coordinator to
bring up any paperwork concerns that have been brought to his/her attention.

Shift Selection
A calendar listing the upcoming court sessions will be available for mentors to select the
sessions they would like to attend. This list will be available after supervision is completed to
make selections.

Thanks and Dismissal
Thank everyone for attending and sharing their thoughts. Remind the group of the next
group supervision date and time and dismiss the group.
Attachment K:
Volunteer Mentoring
Program
Mentoring Evaluation Form
Buffalo Veteran’s Court
Volunteer Mentoring Program
Mentoring Evaluation
Mentor: Date:

What did you find to be most useful about your mentoring sessions?

What would you like to be different to make mentoring sessions more helpful?

Was there anything you felt was missing that you would have liked to be included in the
mentoring sessions?

Please rate the following: Poor Average Excellent
Effectiveness of mentor 1 2 3 4 5
Mentoring location 1 2 3 4 5
Mentoring content 1 2 3 4 5
Mentor’s listening skills 1 2 3 4 5
Mentor’s positive support 1 2 3 4 5
Overall rating 1 2 3 4 5

Other comments:
Attachment L:
Volunteer Mentoring
Program
Supervision Evaluation Form
Buffalo Veteran’s Court
Volunteer Mentoring Program
Supervision Evaluation
Date:

What did you find to be most useful about group supervision?

What would you like to be different to make group supervision more helpful?

Is there anything you feel is missing that you would like to be included in group supervision?

Please rate the following: Poor Average Excellent
Effectiveness of coordinator 1 2 3 4 5
Supervision format 1 2 3 4 5
Supervision content 1 2 3 4 5
Peer support 1 2 3 4 5
Support with problem solving 1 2 3 4 5
Overall rating 1 2 3 4 5

List of other topics or concerns you would like to have addressed as part of an advanced training.

Other comments: