Saturday, July 17, 2010

Hope for Healing.Org restorative justice day

Today was supposed to be our monthly Hope for Healing.Org restorative justice day. If you read our blog post from yesterday you know that we were looking forward to having the kids today. It's always one of the highlights of our month! We lined up our volunteers like we always do but the kids didn't show. It's frustrating but not completely unexpected (especially during the summer).

A key component of restorative justice is to teach kids how to give back to their communities. The value of restorative justice goes beyond that. Many of the youth that we work with have never had an adult pat them on the back. They've never had the opportunity for an adult to work with them on something tangible or to do work  they can feel good about.

By being assigned by the courts to work in this program the kids learn these new skills. These are job builder skills that last a lifetime. The first thing that youth have to learn is how to show up for work on time. To you and I this may be a small thing but to a kid whose never done this it's a pretty big deal.

Don't rule out a simple paperwork or communications issue. Despite everyone's best efforts voice mails get erased, letters returned and phone numbers cancelled.

Of course, a few kids don't show because they are scared. It takes guts to walk into a new job and dive in. Ultimately, restorative justice is a new job.

If  you are volunteering through us (or another organization) and kids don't show try not to be too discouraged. This is part of the learning curve that some teens have to break through. Dwell on the youth for whom you've made a difference. The numbers that you do reach will vastly outnumber the ones you don't.

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