Serving the Fox Valley, Green Bay, Oshkosh and surrounding communities.
A Program of Goodwill NCW

Part 3 – Circle Group Information for Volunteers

You are ready to start your journey and attend a Circles meeting. Hopefully you were prepared well in Orientation about what to expect. You will also be mentored by the seasoned volunteers who are eager to have new faces. Review the tasks and options you have to get involved. As important as attendance at weekly meeting is, there are many other duties to completed to help us run smoothly. Please consider becoming as involved as you can!

Though each Circle has its own “flavor,” all Circles should run essentially under the same principles and format. Make sure you have read through the guidelines for group and individual meetings so you are consistent with our philosophies.

Certificates can be awarded at the volunteer’s discretion for achievements the Circle wants to recognize.

All of our participants are on STATE Supervision and have a probation and parole officer. They are subject to these rules and possibly others the probation officer has deemed necessary. YOU are NOT the probation officer, but it is handy to know what is expected of the participants.



  1. Facilitate group
  2. Take attendance
  3. Set up intake with participant and volunteer, conduct interview, complete necessary forms and submit interview packet to Regional Leader
  4. Inform participants of resources
  5. Make referrals to Goodwill Work Experience Programs
  6. Make follow-up phone calls
  7. Have Regional Leader contact agent if appropriate
  8. Provide transportation
  9. Receive phone calls from participants
  10. Issue vouchers/bus passes
  11. Speak to community groups
  12. Represent Circles at transition fairs in institutions
  13. Seek out resources
  14. Contact other group volunteers as needed
  15. Mentor volunteers when necessary
  16. Keep Regional Leader informed
  17. Provide statistics to meet program requirements
  18. Purchase bus tickets
  19. Network with partner agencies
  20. Coordinate individual participant sessions
  21. Make/handle room/meeting arrangements-resolve issues that arise
  22. Follow on/issue recognition certificates
  23. Special projects (social security applications, locating housing, locating community service projects)
  24. Keep reference guides current


Options and Tasks for Volunteers

Options for Volunteer Participation/Tasks to be Completed:

Volunteers have a variety of ways to contribute time, talents and services to COS. All ways help to advance the overall effectiveness of COS in the community. Sometimes, personal reasons may necessitate a change in how much time a volunteer can give to Circles participation, or a change in a volunteer’s employment situation may require a shift from one area of involvement to another. While our aim is to keep volunteer participation as flexible as possible, it is important for volunteers to communicate and coordinate changes in their program involvement with their Circles leaders and other volunteers.

Here are ways volunteers can be active in Circles of Support:

Group Meetings: These facilitated weekly meetings, usually 90 minutes in duration, are intended to give participants a regular opportunity to discuss their needs, goals, and personal issues and to share their successes and challenges (“growth opportunities”) with other participants. This is also an opportunity for participants to become better acquainted and to share helpful tips, give advice, and provide leads on housing or job opportunities. Participants do most of the talking, with volunteers listening and providing helpful feedback as appropriate.

The format typically includes: introductions (name, status, i.e., participant or volunteer, and how long since released from incarceration); general announcements; a check-in round where participants share successes and also challenges experienced during the past week; general discussion on a common theme emerging from the check-in round or a topic selected by a participant or the group facilitator; and a check-out round where participants share their goals and objectives for the week ahead.

Five group meetings are held weekly in the Fox Cities area. Other meetings are held in various surrounding cities to accommodate growth in participant numbers; at present this includes Fond du Lac, Oshkosh, Manitowoc and Green Bay.

Individual Support Meetings: Participants have the opportunity, as needed, to meet in a more private setting to discuss topics of personal concern, or to receive additional support and guidance. In some instances, a new participant may need some time to “open up” before joining with others participants in a group setting. These meetings may be held in any location convenient for the participant and the volunteers, such as a restaurant, coffee shop, outdoor public place, or the residence of the participant, and the timing of these meetings may need to accommodate a participant’s work schedule.

For the sake of transparency and accountability, volunteers shall inform the other volunteers that a meeting is scheduled and should meet with a participant at any individual support meeting, and the participant should always know that nothing is confidential in these meetings, that anything he/she says about a rules violation, for example, whether actual or intended, may be shared with his/her agent. Typically, no more than an hour is needed for these individual support meetings.

Intake Interviews: Early in the participant’s involvement with COS, an intake interview is scheduled. Similar to an individual support meeting — in that the participant meets privately for about an hour with two or three volunteers — the primary purpose of this one-time meeting is to orient the new participant on what to expect from their Circles involvement, what the Circle expects of them, and how we will work together. This is typically where various forms of Circles participation are discussed, completed and signed, including application, participant information, agreement, and program guidelines forms. This meeting may also offer the first opportunity to discuss the participant’s individual needs and his/her Plan for Success.

Support Contact: There might be occasions when telephone contact may be helpful with individual participants to “check in” with them. In addition, telephone calls may be helpful during periods of particular stress such as family issues, housing problems, employment problems, etc. Regular telephone contact may be appropriate in these situations, and a volunteer may step forward to participate in this way. Familiarity with referrals to community resources, such as the Crisis Intervention Hotline (920-832-4646) or United Way 2-1-1 services can be important in these situations. In all cases, volunteers should communicate (by email or at meetings) with other volunteers and their Circles facilitator when they have telephone support contact with participants.

Speaking Engagements: As awareness of Circles of Support grows in the community, so will opportunities to talk about our program to service organizations, civic groups, churches, and community support groups around the area. Every such opportunity gives us a chance to raise awareness among more people about the mission of Circles of Support in helping to lower recidivism among people released from incarceration, lower per capita rate of incarceration in our state, and improve public safety in our local communities. Volunteers are always needed in this area. Please contact the Volunteer Coordinator or the Regional Director if you are interested in helping with speaking opportunities.

Transportation: Through our association with Goodwill NCW, we can usually provide bus passes to participants in certain special circumstances. This should not be done on a permanent on-going basis, however, and participants are always encouraged to rely on their own resources for their personal transportation to job interviews, workplaces, medical appointments, family engagements, etc. Unusual situations do arise and rides are sometimes needed. This is an area where volunteers’ assistance can be helpful. The transportation of a participant should be communicated (by email or at meetings) to other volunteers and/or Circles Facilitator. Volunteers are reimbursed for the above transportation.

Additionally, participants frequently need rides to various appointments and will ask volunteers for help. Mileage can be claimed in these situations.

Issuing Vouchers (St. Vincent’s, Empire School of Cosmetology, Sight One, etc.): Each individual voucher gives instructions on how to complete. Copies of voucher forms are contained in this guide. The voucher should be filled out completely and not given blank to the participant. There are usually limits about how frequently these vouchers can be issued (ex. once per year) and this should be explained to the participant. Fill in “Circles of Support” in place asking for authorizing agency name.

Bus Tickets: In the last week of every other month, a designated volunteer will ask group facilitators to contact the Regional Leader to request quantity/type of bus passes needed for the next two months. An order will be placed with the bus company by a designated volunteer, who will notify the Regional Leader regarding specifics of the order. The volunteer will go to the bus office (Valley Transit, 801 S. Whitman, Appleton for Fox Valley) to purchase tickets, then return receipt to Regional Director and notify leaders that passes will be available at front desk of Goodwill. Valley Transit will bill Goodwill directly.

Bikes: Volunteers can get a bike voucher off bookshelf in Regional Director’s office. You must sign out a voucher on the log sheet and at same time you can sign out a lock and bike light. Instructions are listed on the voucher how and where to get the bike.

Individual Contact/Group Attendance Reports: Necessary reports will be completed by volunteer record keeper and forwarded to Regional Leader at the end of the month. (Weekly Attendance and Monthly Attendance Worksheets need to be completed electronically.)

RSVP Volunteer: To volunteers age 55 and over, the Volunteer Center (Circles is affiliated) encourages you to be an RSVP volunteer. Please consider this and contact [email protected] with questions. RSVP volunteers are eligible for these benefits:

  • Mileage reimbursement is given to and from the worksite for your volunteer.
  • Death benefit policy if something “unfortunate” happens while you are volunteering.
  • Invitation to you and the member to our volunteer appreciate event.

Recognition Certificates: A certificate is given to participants to recognize specific accomplishments. An example is included in this folder, a template is available which allows certificate to be individualized. Presentation is made by volunteer either in group or in individual meeting verbally recognizing the accomplishments.

Follow-up Phone Contacts With Participants: Occasionally there is a need to make follow-up phone calls with program participants (i.e., if they have missed appointments or quit coming to group). Inform them that you’re calling to just touch base and see what is happening and how the participant sees future involvement with Circles. Many times lack of contact is due to busy schedules, misunderstanding about meeting times, lost phone numbers or maybe they are having problems. Assure them Circles is here to help and that the door is always open.

Time Cards: To assist in obtaining grants, it’s important to collect information about how many hours volunteers are giving and in what way. Each month, volunteers are asked to submit their completed time card to the Regional Director. Time cards may be completed electronically.



  1. Purpose
    1. Provide a safe and respectful setting where participants and volunteers share their experiences, knowledge of resources and explore options to help participants succeed in their transition from incarceration to the community.
  2. Format
    1. Introductions: First name and when released. New members could share where they are living and other info of their choice.
    2. Announcements: Relevant info which might be helpful to group (Upcoming events, new programs, job listings, etc.)
    3. Check-in: A brief update (5 minutes) by each participant on what has transpired since the last meeting. Focus on the positives and any “growth” opportunities.
    4. Discussion: Topic identified in check-in as urgent or several participants are experiencing the same thing. If nothing specific, volunteer OR participant could also identify a topic. Group leader should have topic ideas ready to discuss if time allows.
    5. Wrap-up: Have each participant mention upcoming week. Set goals or briefly discuss approach for possible issues. (This is not a counseling session)
  3. Things to keep in mind
    1. Focus on participants interacting with each other rather than information reporting or one-to-one counseling.
    2. Encourage input from everyone. Keep it non-judgmental. Do not preach.
    3. Respect individual’s choice not to contribute.
    4. Ask open-ended questions (Motivational Interviewing) Examples:
      1. “Have you had experiences you can share that might be helpful?”
      2. “Can you think of other ways to look at this?”
      3. “What are the possible choices?”
      4. “What are some of the consequences?”
      5. “What are consequences of some of the options?”
    5. Use examples to get participants to problem solve rather than just giving the answer
    6. Know when to move on.
    7. Redirect and include others when member is monopolizing the discussion.
    8. Stay focused on topic at hand. Summarize points that have been made.
    9. All group members should feel comfortable in helping get the discussion back on track.
    10. Encourage volunteer contributions.
    11. Avoid “you should” statements-focus on exploring options.
    12. Realize all issues cannot be discusses in one meeting. Better to choose one topic and discuss in depth.


Individual Support Meeting Guidelines

The purpose of these meetings is to provide support and assistance in a non-group setting that offers more privacy and might feel less threatening to participants. Participants may request Individual Support (IS) Meetings at any time, either in place of or in addition to the group meetings, and it is useful to advise new participants that they have that option at the time of the Intake Interview. For transparency, IS Meetings should have two volunteers present (but not more than three), and should be held on socially neutral ground (coffee shop, restaurant, public commons area, etc.). IS Meetings should NEVER be held at a volunteer’s house.

  1. Keep it casual, informal, and friendly. Participants should realize that we’re on their side, and that we’re there to help them, and not out to get them. New participants don’t automatically know this and they may feel tense, vulnerable, or reluctant to open up.
  2. Identify current and pressing issues. Ask probing questions. Find out what’s going on with the participant and how he/she feels about the issue. Is there anger, fear, pain? Get the participant to own his/her feelings.
  3. Discuss what options might be available/possible. Looks at what steps could be taken to alleviate the situation. What are the possible consequences of each action? Try to get the participant past the feeling of powerlessness to a feeling of personal empowerment.
  4. Set some specific, measurable goals for the next week. Point out specific things the participant can do to address the problem. Provide specific names, locations, and phone numbers for participant to contact.
  5. Try to set the participant up to succeed. Focus on small steps. Encourage self-reliance. Recognize and validate positive accomplishments.
  6. Set up another meeting. Participants should be clear on the time frame they have to work within. They should know when they will next have an opportunity to report their progress, their volunteer supporters are pulling for them, and that their accomplishments will be recognized and praised.




General Information

  • CCOS participants generally are not barred from employment programs at Goodwill based on their criminal background. Relevancy of the criminal conviction will be considered as it relates to the position for which is being applied.
  • There will be a waiting period of two years minimum after conviction for offenses involving theft.
  • The supervising agent must be supportive of placement.
  • When participants are referred for a work experience, their name will be added to the job referral list kept in the Goodwill shared docs. As they move forward in the process, their information will be updated. Their name will continue to be moved to the correct category on the list until the experience has been completed

Traditional Goodwill Work Experience Program

  • 12 weeks, 20 hours per week
  • Work sites in Goodwill Stores or Shiner Center or with the WOW program
  • The individual must participate in COS groups and/or individual sessions for the duration of the work experience program (weekly for the first six weeks and every two weeks thereafter).
  • E-mail referral made to the Director. The referral should include the participant’s name, DOB, phone number, brief explanation of work skills, education, current living situation, supervision info such as offenses, agent’s name and phone number and any special work restrictions (physical/mental or supervision rules). The referral should also include program recommendation (i.e., WOW in the Fox Valley).
  • The Director will contact agent regarding referral and will request the 1336 form and request the background check from Goodwill.
  • If accepted, the Goodwill Vocational Coordinator will contact participant to set up interview.
  • The Goodwill Vocational Coordinator, Referring Volunteer and Agents will contact Anne throughout the program regarding any issues that might arise (absenteeism, missing group, performance problems)

WOW Program

  • Lasts up to 6 months-20 hours per week.
  • Work site is located in WOW building, 1840 Spencer St., Appleton, 920-968-0032
  • $9/hour
  • Program includes employment development experiences such as soft job skills, pro-social interaction, resume review, educational components (budgeting, stress management, etc.)
  • Priority given to individuals that would not be placed in the traditional work program and who are rated as high risk to recidivate.
  • The individual must agree to be involved with COS groups and/or individual contacts for the duration of the work experience program (weekly for the first six weeks and once every two weeks thereafter).
  • E-mail referral made to the Director. Request for consideration should include participant’s name, DOB, phone number, brief explanation of work skills, education, current living situation, supervision info such as offenses, agent’s name and phone number and any special work restrictions (physical/mental or supervision rules). Also include any other relevant information which would be appropriate for this program.
  • The Director will contact agent regarding referral and request the 1336 form and request the background check from Goodwill.
  • If accepted, the Circles Vocational Coordinator will contact participant to set up interview.
  • The Director will be the contact person for agent/referring volunteer throughout the program regarding any issues that might arise (absenteeism, missing group, performance problems, etc.)



Circles of Support Staff:

Anne Strauch, Regional Director                                                        920-968-6832 GW

920-475-0268 Cell


Danel Burchby, MSW, Volunteer Coordinator                                    920-840-3037 Cell

Kristin Smet, Vocational Coordinator                                                  920-968-6542 GW

920-968-6356 WoW

920-558-4463 Cell


Jail Chaplains

Outagamie County (Landon Churchill)                                    920-832-4747

Brown County                                                              920-448-4250


Job Centers:

Fox Valley                                                                               920-997-3272

Oshkosh                                                                                  920-232-6273

Green Bay                                                                               920-448-6760


Social Services:

Brown Co.                                                                               920-448-6000

Outagamie Co.                                                                        920-832-4741

Winnebago Co.                                                                       920-729-2750



Brown Co.                                                                               920-448-6460

Outagamie Co.                                                                        920-832-5168

Winnebago Co. (Jennifer Marks)                                            920-729-2791


Aging & Disabilities Resource Center:          

Brown Co.                                                                               920-448-4300

Outagamie Co.                                                                        866-739-7322

Winn Co.                                                                                920-729-2760

Winn Co.                                                                                 920-236-4876

Winn Co.                                                                                 920-236-4672



Brown Co.                                                                               920-448-4250

Outagamie Co.                                                                        920-832-5605

Outagamie Co. (Huber)                                                          920-832-5634

Winnebago Co.                                                                       920-236-7380


STEP Industries                                                                                   920-722-2345, ext. 240


St. Vincent’s Hotline, Neenah                                                            920-729-4571



Fox Valley                                                                               (800) 366-8161

Green Bay                                                                               (920) 569-1598

Oshkosh                                                                                  (920) 966-1200



DOC Terms and Acronyms

A&E – Assessment and Evaluation is completed when an inmate enters the prison system. A&E looks at mental health, physical health, dental needs, educational needs and treatment needs. Male inmates go through this process at Dodge Correctional Institution and females at Taycheedah Correctional Institute.

ACT 109 – After serving a percentage of their sentence, inmates sentenced under Truth in Sentencing may petition the court for early release.

ACT 28 – Legislation effective Oct. 1, 2009 that puts inmates on track for release earlier than their sentence dictates.

AM – Anger Management Treatment (16 weeks).

AODA – Alcohol and Drug Abuse.

AODA Dual Diagnosed – An AODA treatment program specifically for inmates who also have mental illness (9-12 months).

AODA Res – AODA residential treatment (16 weeks).

ATR – Alternative to Revocation.

CCC – Corrections Concerns Committee. Created in Oshkosh, this committee looks at community issues related to the offender population. This acts as the steering committee for the Oshkosh Circles of Support.

CCW – Carrying a Concealed Weapon.

CGIP – Cognitive Intervention Program (16 weeks).

Circle Member – A citizen volunteer with the Circles of Support.

Circle Participants – The offender who participates in Circles meetings.

CIP – Challenge Incarceration Program are “Boot Camps” located at several minimum security correctional centers. These six-month programs include AODA evaluation and treatment. Graduates may petition for early release.

COTS – Community Outreach Temporary Services.

DACC – Drug Abuse Correctional Center, a minimum-security facility in Winnebago County. It offers earned release program and work release. Approximately 300 male inmates.

DAI – Division of Adult Institutions (Prisons and correctional Centers).

DCC – Division of Community Corrections (Probation and Parole offices).

DOC – Department of Corrections.

DVC – Domestic Violence Counseling (26 weeks).

ERP – Earned Release Program. A six-month program that includes AODA treatment. Graduates may petition for early release.

ES – Extended Supervision. Truth in Sentencing allows judges to sentence an offender to a term in prison and a term to be served in the community. Extended Supervision is the term served in the community in which the offender reports to a probation and parole agent.

FLCI – Fox Lake Correctional Institution.

GW – Goodwill.

IC – Interstate Compact.

KMCI – Kettle Moraine Correctional Institute.

LHS – Lincoln Hills School, a youth offender facility in Irma, Wisc.

MAX DISCHARGE – Maximum Discharge. Each conviction has a date that represents the sentence being completely served. Once this date is reached, the offender is no longer under the jurisdiction of the Department of Corrections for that conviction.

Maximum – A security level that requires inmates to be secured within an institution. Inmates leave the institution only for medical or court appointments by warden or court order and will have restraints and escort at all times. Maximum-security institutions have very little inmate movement within the institution and inmates spend most of their time in locked cells with the exception of recreation.

Medium – A security level that required inmates to be secured with in the institution. Inmates leave the institution only for medical or court appointments by warden or court order and will have restraints and escort at all times. Inmate cells are generally unlocked and inmates are allowed significant amount of free movement within the institution.

Minimum – A security level with fewer restrictions, more privileges, and more inmate movement. Generally, inmates at this security level can wear non-DAI clothing and be transported to off-grounds activities (AA, Community Service, etc.) without restraints.

Minimum-Community – A security level that is required for inmates to be allowed in the community for work release. These inmates are not secured or restrained while in the community. These inmates may be transported to their jobs by other same level inmates who are approved drivers. Inmates are monitored by phone calls between DAI and employers and work site visits.

MH – Mental Health.

MR – Mandatory Release. Inmates sentenced under “old law” or “new law” generally serve two-thirds of the sentence in prison and one-third on extended supervision. Inmates sentenced under these laws are generally parole-eligible. If they are not given a parole grant by the Parole Commission, the mandatory release date represents the date their prison term ends and parole supervision begins.

NLCI – New Lisbon Correctional Institution.

OCJ – Outagamie County Jail.

Offender – A term used to describe a person on probation, parole or extended supervision.

OSCI – Oshkosh Correctional Institution, a medium-security prison with approximately 2,050 male inmates. It offers numerous treatment and educational programs.

OWI – Operating While Intoxicated.

PMR – Presumptive Mandatory Release. Inmates who have been sentenced under certain statutes (generally weapons, assault, drugs) may not necessarily be released on the MR date. The Parole Commission conducts an extra hearing with the inmate to review factors that affect risk. The Parole Commission may decide that the inmate will remain incarcerated beyond the MR date to the next discharge date.

PRC – Program Review Committee. Each institution has a program review Committee which sees each inmate every 6-12 months during their incarceration. PRC’s job is to determine the approximate custody level and the appropriate institution placement (based on time to serve, custody level, needs).

PTAC – Party to a Crime.

Revocation – The process by which the offenders community supervision in revoked. This is generally prompted by the offender violating the Rules of Supervision (possibly by committing a new crime). Depending on the type of conviction or sentencing structure, revocation will result in the prison term or an appearance before a judge for sentencing after revocation.

RGCI – Redgranite Correctional Institution.

RRS – Risk Reduction Sentence. An Act 28 sentence structure that offers early release if the inmate completes education or treatment to reduce risk of re-offense.

SOT – Sex Offender Treatment (11-36 months).

Strength-Based Approach – A method of dealing with others that focuses on strengths v. weaknesses, collaboration, and respect.

TCI – Taycheedah Correctional Institution.

TIS – Truth in Sentencing. Legislation that allows judges to sentence an inmate to a specific amount of time in prison as well as a specific amount of time on extended supervision.

TLP – Transitional Living Program.

WCC – Winnebago Correctional Center, a minimum-security facility in Winnebago with approximately 300 inmates. The primary function is work-release.

WRC – Wisconsin Resource Center. A prison in Winnebago specifically for inmates with severe mental health issues.





Circles of Support Recognition Coins

In keeping with the Circles of Support mission to help our participants’ transition from incarceration into the community and philosophy of strength-based practice, Circles of Support coins are awarded to the participant at certain points in their journey to pro-social living and reintegration into the community to reinforce their commitment to positive change.

The participant will be chosen to receive the coin by the Circles volunteer team after meeting the criteria listed below. The agent will be notified by the COS Director. The Circles volunteers will award the coin to the participant. If Anne is invited to attend, she will bring a treat!

Coins will be awarded at three months, six months and 12 months when these criteria are met:

  • Consistent and Reasonable attendance at Circles meetings.
  • Progress toward or completion of identified Plan for Success goals, as determined through a 1:1 meeting with Circles volunteer.
  • Evidence of consistent use of new patterns/coping tools/positive behaviors in AND out of the Circle.
  • No new crimes or revocations