At St. Croix Valley Restorative Justice, we are fortunate to have active volunteers. Really committed and active volunteers. Let me explain . . .
‘Gina” (name changed) showed up for her second pre-conference meeting at 10 am on a Sunday, the meeting was supposed to be 1 pm on Monday. When she called ‘Dan’, the volunteer he was home in his pajamas! He quickly got ready and went down to meet her. He now knows, how important appointment reminders will be for Gina. This kind of thing happen around Victim-Offender Conferencing and I think it reminds us how important it is to explore feelings with people.
People who committed harm subconsiously know, and some quite consiously know, meeting with the victims is going to be difficult. Often times what they imagine it to be is so different from the actual outcome.
We have a conferencing case going on, that involved people from an elderly community. Property theft, and since the crime, the formal court process and now just two months of pre-conferencing preparation and two of the victims have died. So I supported my volunteer by listening to the story of meeting the 80 year old couple, the pre-conference discussion. The volunteer shared how when the couple left, and he watched them side by side, walker to walker, he got a tear in his eye. They met in college and had been together 63 years. My volunteer got choked up, sharing how devestated the wife must be. He also felt connected to the person that called and let him know of the husbands passing. So my volunteer support today is about dealing with grief and loss, since people in the conference are passing away.
I’m going to a home jewlrey party at the end of the month. I was invited by a young woman, that volunteers a few hours every month. She’s been really consistent the last 2 1/2 years. It’s so helpful to have the same person come time after time. She knows the flow of our program. Plus I love this brand of home jewlrey :).
The point is relationships. Relationships to program volunteers. Nurturing the relationship the volunteer has with your organization. I love Restorative Justice and the many relationships it brings to my life!