Considering volunteering with RJP Maine? Here are some voices of our volunteers, new and old:
Q and A with a veteran volunteer:
What drew you to restorative justice volunteering?
"A combination of a genuine interest in advocacy and a personal experience with a child struggling with SUD while attending a well regarded public high school in Connecticut. I was appalled at the school's response to the crisis unfolding which was entirely punitive and without any effort to connect with our family in a way that focused on rehabilitation instead of punishment. It was that lack of connection that hit me the hardest. Each challenge we faced with our son was met with distance and what felt like disregard for his well being. I'd have to say the response was about as damaging as it could have been for someone in the throws of addiction. Suspension, expulsion, and removing an individual from the community they were once an active part of only increased the trauma for all of us. We eventually moved away from that community to mid coast Maine and I immediately threw myself into the only thing that made sense to me at the time and that was Restorative Justice."
"While RJ can be so healing in schools, prisons and government- this is very personal work. The applications are limitless. Family circles, friend circles, team circles, any tribe of people really. We are ordinary, flawed, and make mistakes. How beautiful to imagine small communities within larger communities, within societal structures, embracing these ideals and working toward restoring and rebuilding."
How has working with RJ evolved your thinking?
"It validated every thought I had as an engaged parent who was advocating for recovery and re-entry into community for my son. The shame that accompanies the behaviors is something many people do not understand. Normalizing the conversation around restoring justice and using words like "repair agreement" and "re-entry" made it possible to articulate the valid research and statistics that support the thinking behind restorative justice."
Is there a particular case or particular youth that impacted you or sticks with you?
"Every single one."
A recent Foundations trainee and retired educator, ready to volunteer:
"I was reminded of how “circle keeping” has been at the heart of so many cultures forever. This is deep wisdom. I found it very unexpected that sitting with a group of strangers, on Zoom, we were able to work toward pulling that soul wisdom forward. We were vulnerable and present for one another. We were both storytellers and listeners.
While I have used circles with children in schools for problem solving, celebration, and even enhancing connection to curriculum, this process, with RJP Maine, was shared through intentional structures that were so effective.
I am planning to use some of the structure in groups I facilitate with my faith group."