Advoz announced its new name and program vision in a live “flash mob” demonstration on Lancaster’s Penn Square today at Noon. Dozens were on hand to watch and piece together a large sign of the merged organization’s new name and logo.
The new organization combines the mediation work of Conflict Resolution Services (formerly Lancaster Mediation Center) with the restorative justice victim-offender dialogue of the Center for Community Peacemaking (formerly LAVORP), both pioneers in their respective dialogue services across Pennsylvania.
As of February 16, the organizations will be operating together as Advoz. “The word comes from the Latin for ‘voice’ and inherently means, ‘adding voice to dialogue,’” says Chris Fitz, the new organization’s executive director of community engagement.
“We are excited by what the merged organization can add to our community’s already-impressive peace-building work,” says Mila Pilz the new executive director of program operations.
The new organization’s board president is Miles Yoder, assistant superintendent at Lancaster Mennonite Schools. Vice president is Ana Ayala, locally-based regional policy officer for the US Department of State.
An immediate benefit of the merger is the ability to develop Restorative Practices in local schools, a win-win approach to discipline and community building gaining steam nationwide as a correction to the harmful trends of “zero-tolerance” approaches. Thirty percent of juvenile justice cases referred to the organization came from schools in 2016. This new “Restorative Schools” project, already underway for nine months, has equipped staff at four middle schools in the School District of Lancaster.
Across all of Pennsylvania, Lancaster County has been unique having two active services for mediation and restorative justice, using more than 60 trained volunteers to work with more than 750 people in conflict and crisis each year. While such services are legislated in other states because of their effectiveness and efficiency, Lancaster’s programs thrive on the cooperative relationship with local courts and the generous support of community contributions. Advoz now brings these services and teams of volunteers together with new outreach and efficiencies under a unified administration and board of directors.
Advoz will publicly announce its new name and program vision on Thursday, February 16th, Noon at Penn Square Lancaster via Facebook Live Video @LancasterCCP @ConflictResolutionServicesPA and @AdvozPA with hashtag #AddYourVoice and #SharetheLove.
Advoz is celebrating its inaugural year with an event on May 4th, Around the Table with Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mohandas Gandhi and founder of the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence. The benefit includes a reception, dinner, auction and program with both local peacemakers and Dr. Gandhi in a conversational interview about his story of mentorship with “Grandfather Gandhi.” Scott LaMar, host of WITF’s Smart Talk, will also receive the first Dignity in Dialogue Award as part of the event. It takes place at Spooky Nook’s Olympic Hall, 75 Champ Blvd., Manheim, PA.
For more on the event, see: AroundtheTable.org.
As I write this blog, I am in my ninth week of interning with Advoz: Mediation & Restorative Practices. It has been a healing experience for me to work with Advoz staff and volunteers because they center relationships in all aspects of their work. I have witnessed...