True Light Family Resource Center Joins the Peace Party

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Awesome True Light Training Participants

Awesome True Light Training Participants

“The insight this experience has brought to me is the importance in listening and evaluating what a person says or does before responding in any form or fashion. I believe this skill all by itself would make a difference in our communities, jobs, churches, schools, etc. It would have a tremendous positive impact in our lives, period.”        Marilyn Layton, Participant

Don Ivans, Community Mediation Center (CMC) Mediator and School Services Specialist, and I spent 5 intense and enjoyable Wednesday afternoons with staff, volunteers, social work interns and friends of the True Light Family Resource Center (TLFRC). TLFRC serves the working poor and homeless individuals with a food pantry, clothes closet, household items and occasionally monetary support. In addition to serving clients with basic necessities, TLFRC has a case manager and a volunteer client services coordinator who refer clients to housing options and emergency assistance. The Emancipation Station, a day shelter for women, coordination with other agencies to meet basic needs and Saturday morning breakfasts round out the services for an increasingly urban, high-risk, multi-ethnic and impoverished population.

The Founder of TLFRC, Pastor Alice Piggee-Wallack, participated in a neutral third-party mediation process facilitated by CMC. When she learned about Restorative Justice and Conflict Resolution Training made possible by the Community Capital Fund (CCF), a new initiative by the KCMO Community Development Entity (CDE), she was eager to participate. At the end of our time together, participants were asked to respond to the training. Alice wrote, “I have wondered why individuals with whom I work did certain things—positive and negative. I now have so much insight into, not only their interactive style, but also my own and my response. This transcends.”

True Light Family Resource Center, welcome to the Peace Party!

You can Join! Sign up for an upcoming training or donate to the work of CMC.

 

Cherith Brook Joins the Peace Party

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Skills Practice at Cherith Brook

Skills Practice at Cherith Brook

The residents, volunteers and supporters of Cherith Brook Catholic Worker House are “committed to regularly feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, giving drink to the thirsty, welcoming the stranger, visiting the prisoner and the sick in the name of Jesus”. Many residents of their Northeast neighborhood know Cherith Brook as the ‘Shower House’. 4 mornings a week they open the facility to guests that would not otherwise have access to a shower, creating opportunities for renewal. Many more times a week they feed people, from their garden and from donations to the house.

For the second time in 3 years, Cherith Brook founders, Jodi and Eric Garbison, sought and received a grant for Interpersonal Conflict Resolution Training from the Community Mediation Center (CMC). In February, 2014, 23 people affiliated with Cherith Brook came together for 2 days of training, customized to speak to the universal yet unique challenges of getting along with others where differences exist. The diverse group of participants included outspoken young adults, service providers, guests of Cherith Brook, students, neighbors and long-time volunteers.

Participants discussed and practiced skills for conflict resolution and shared experiences, thoughts and insights. On day 2, one participant, a regular guest at Cherith Brook, shared what it was like for him to be homeless and struggling to live day to day on the streets. The planned curriculum was suspended for a few moments as we listening to him speak from his heart, the wisdom that comes from moving through life altering challenges.

It is true that peace building begins with an internal commitment to solve conflict in our own lives, thoughtfully, honestly and with compassion for ourselves and others. Cherith Brook models this commitment. Welcome to the Peace Party!

 

Community Board Joins the Peace Party

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IMG_4682Jackie, is a 57 year old disabled woman, who was arrested for shoplifting at a grocery store. She was caught leaving the store with 2 packages of meat underneath her in her wheelchair. A situation such as this calls for a Restorative Justice response that goes beyond the criminal justice system’s ability to meet the needs of those involved.

A Neighborhood or Community Accountability Board is a Restorative Justice process involving the victim, offender and the local community in an effort to make as right as possible harm that has occurred. The process is managed and facilitated by a conflict resolution specialist from the Community Mediation Center (CMC). CMC receives referrals of first time offenders for low level crimes from the East Zone Prosecutor’s office.  A group of 3 or 4 trained community members, along with the offender, decide conditions for restitution, without involving the court system.

At the Tuesday evening Accountability Board, which included Jackie’s case worker, board members heard her story. Jackie lives alone in an apartment and struggles to make ends meet. Each month she is allotted $50 in food stamps which does not cover the cost of even one meal a day. She resorted to stealing because she was hungry. It became apparent that Jackie felt helpless to solve the problem any other way. A board member then asked Jackie to listen to how shoplifting affected the community. Prices for goods are higher in stores with high shoplifting rates. The cost of security also increases prices for food and other goods in areas that serve low income households.

The outcome of the meeting stated that Jackie would pay back the $20 for the stolen food and make monthly payments from her disability check to cover the $150 fee that the store charges for every security incident. A board member suggested that Jackie contact Meals on Wheels to apply for assistance. She agreed and it was written into the agreement which was then signed by everyone in attendance. The report was forwarded to the prosecutor and Jackie’s charges will be dropped pending completion of her restitution.

Jackie called the CMC office a week later, very grateful for the opportunity to make restitution for what she had done and excited that she was to begin receiving meals daily.  CMC helps people solve problems that involve basic needs, and involves the community in supporting those with very few options.

Funding sources for Community Boards, Conflict Resolution, Restorative Justice and Violence Prevention include United Way of Greater Kansas City, the Greater Kansas City Health Care Foundation, Jackson County COMBAT, Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office and Private Donations. Welcome to the Peace Party! You can join. Go to our website to contribute, sign up for training or to volunteer. www.mediationkc.org