Restorative Justice non-profit, agency asset #1, the power of the human spirit.

This blog has several posts about the view of people as mental, physical, emotional and spiritual.  Or/also known as – mind, body, heart and soul.  As a Restorative Justice teacher, advocate, practitioner and student, I think it is crucial to recognize, promote and attend to individuals on these levels, Restoratively.

Self and others, victims and offenders, volunteers and paid staff, we are all in a network of creating and sustaining the work of SCVRJP.  A nonprofit exists to help, the mission and vision is to help around a specific need.  At SCVRJP, our mission statement is . . . to Build and Sustain a Culture of Peace & Belonging utilizing Restorative Justice Principles and Practices in our Community.  The SCVRJP board of directors developed that mission in Circle, with Kay Pranis.  I was a board member at that time.  I am starting year 7 as Executive Director delivering outcomes on that mission.

In a recent interview, I was asked about our agency asset.  My answer was immediate, “the power of the human spirit”. That is our agency asset.  The question came from a new, local initiative to analyze and potentially improve existing criminal justice systems.  I reflected on the role of SCVRJP within our local justice system.  I wonder what other answers were provided this interviewer.  I can elaborate here, on how I came to my response.

Called to work.  Volunteering and working in Restorative Justice results in deep and meaningful interactions with others.  Often times, reflecting on your own life experiences happens while engaged in the mission of healing and repairing harm.  What calls us?  Is it our mind telling us it is the right thing to do?  Is it our hearts, the feelings and emotions of watching and supporting others on a healing path?  What gets people to get up, get dressed and SHOW UP at 215 N 2nd Street, Suite 108 River Falls, WI?  Volunteers, staff, board members, clients, and visitors pass through our door physically.  We talk about people leaving a Circle different from when they arrived, you know what changed?  Perspectives changed, attitudes change, we all leave differently and that kind of change is the power of the human spirit.

The human spirit can be broken in a million pieces yesterday and be whole today.  The human spirit can forgive.  The human spirit forges on in the darkest of dark.  Volunteer storytellers relate experiences that bring tears to the listener.  Be it offender, victim or survivor, the power of the human spirit is to move on and take away life lessons.  The power of the human spirit is generous, generous in retelling that story for the good of others.  To witness someone access their inner strength and wisdom, brings easier access to our own.

Restorative Justice uses the power of the human spirit to acknowledge harm, to understand the obligations it creates and to take action to make things right.  Restorative Justice uses the power of the human spirit to make amends.  Restorative Justice uses the power of the human spirit to accept those amends, or to wrestle without accepting them.

As a nonprofit Executive Director, I need to be concerned about bank balance, financial strategies, fundraising process.  What fascinates me more, is that none of that would exist without our program.  Our program exists because of our volunteers, our storytellers our partners who courageously referred to us in the beginning.  I’m fascinated by the challenges ahead with regard to building our fiscal assets while we continue to promote the number one asset, the power of the human spirit.