February 8, 2002
Four University of Maine at Fort Kent students will be volunteering at the Fort Kent District Court as the first volunteers in the Maine Volunteers for Justice HelpMELaw pilot project.
The Maine Volunteers for Justice (MVJ) program's goals are to increase the public's access to and understanding of the justice system by providing volunteer opportunities in the court and judicial system.
The organization works with a number of different kinds of volunteers. Many students from high schools and colleges work with MVJ as part of their academic program, either in an internship capacity or as an academically connected community service requirement.
Kimberly Glasscock, freshman, Jill Nadeau, junior, and Kelly Caron, senior all of Fort Kent and Danielle Hutcherson, a sophomore from Baltimore, Maryland will be assisting members of the public as they access information and fill out forms from the new www.helpmelaw.com web site via a court-situated computer station.
When schedules permit, some of these students will also be trained to do electronic recording and also participate in the important work of keeping the public record of litigation.
The program designed to engage community volunteers in service in the court system and with non-profit legal service providers has opened new doors of opportunity for UMFK students enrolled in related courses and degree programs such as behavioral science, criminal justice, computer science and UMFK's newest baccalaureate degree program rural public safety administration. Students will find it a great service learning opportunity while volunteering their time.
Clerk of Courts, Linda Cyr, will also make sure the students see a number of informative court videos, and observe and participate in a variety of other court activities.
In addition, Judge Ronald Daigle has informed the faculty of the university that he would be pleased to have classes make appointments with him to sit in on court proceedings and then meet with him afterwards to discuss what they have seen.
Penny Hilton, MVJ coordinator credits the efforts of Mariella Squire, assistant professor of anthropology and sociology, Darryl Ouellette of the Maine State Police and part time faculty member at UMFK and Don Eno, academic outreach coordinator, for their efforts to promote this court project among their students and within the community.
Hilton also credits John Mathieu for his efforts in meeting with the students and for his support of the project.
Those involved in the volunteer effort believe these students will lay the groundwork for an on-going, active and mutually beneficial relationship with the university and the community.
"It is certainly a good opportunity for our students to gain experience and interact," said Eno. "However, any motivated and interested community member may also become a volunteer with the program."
Anyone interested in signing up to be trained, or who want to learn more about the program, can contact Eno at 834-7835 or stop by the Academic Outreach Office located in Cyr Hall on the UMFK campus.