Getting the “why” of Advoz

Jan 16, 2018 | News

From Marina McDonough, Advoz fall intern, sophomore at Harrisburg Area Community College
Interning in the Advoz office this past fall, I’ve seen some of the most routine and most interesting parts of the work. During one of our weekly meetings, we went through a group brainstorm activity that helped me think about my own contributions to Advoz. The activity looked at three levels of any organization or team and how to build a common focus, but it also showed me my own motivation for working for peace in the community.
The first level is the “what’s.” What do we do with our time in the office? What do we do with our limited resources? What services do we offer? For Advoz, this is volunteer trainings, dialogue-focused events, and most of all, mediations. Then Advoz shares as much information about the work as they can, with donors, volunteers and surrounding communities. This was my first stage of learning; I learned what was done at Advoz.
Next came the “how’s,” which are difficult to get in summary forms, like a monthly newsletter. How do we get from point A to point B? How does an idea become a campaign? And how does an eager individual become a mediator? I saw a lot of hard work, including hours’ worth of behind the scenes jobs that were necessary, but thankless and often unnoticed. I saw the process of reading feedback from volunteers, of making something better than it was the last time. I learned about the importance of diversity and cooperation within a team and the value of communication.
Finally, come the “why’s,” which are at the marrow an organization like Advoz. I spent many hours in the office, and learned valuable information about the how’s and the what’s, but what I will remember came from three hours on a Tuesday night when I had the chance to observe a mediation between two people. Experiencing forgiveness and kindness, or frustration and relief is a world of difference from reading a story online or a statistical report on restorative justice. As well as vulnerability and resilience, the relationship formed, if only for three hours, shone brightest. I was able to see a transformation of two opposing individuals, an offender and a victim, two human beings who understood and in the end, wished only goodness for each other. For me, that is the “why.”
At Advoz, I learned about the unquantifiable value of bare, unguarded human connection. To hear it through Herman Melville, “We cannot live for ourselves alone. Our lives are connected by a thousand invisible threads, and along these sympathetic fibers, our actions run as causes and return to us as results.”

Read More from the Advoz Blog

Intern Stories: Meet Kiarelys Ortega-Balbuena

My name is Kiarelys Ortega I am currently attending Millersville University for my bachelor's in Social Work. I originally chose Millersville because of the close proximity to where I live. I help out my parents...

Intern Stories: Meet Stephanie Fabian

I am currently a senior at Millersville University majoring in Social Work and minoring in Spanish. Since I was a middle school student, I knew I wanted to help people and advocate for unheard voices of vulnerable populations. My mom and her siblings are from Puebla,...

Living in the Process: An Intern’s Investment

Living in the Process: An Intern’s Investment

By Sara Crouch, Program Intern Restorative justice is first and foremost a process, rather than an outcome. That’s one of the major lessons that I learned as an intern with Advoz this fall. As someone used to learning new skills quickly, it took me a while to...

Getting to ‘Thank You’

Getting to ‘Thank You’

Rewiring our Apologies…and Our Brainsby Chris Fitz We were getting to end of dialogue. The woman who’d been robbed expressed her grace, that she didn’t hold this against the boy in front of her—or his mom. He was 15, with older friends, saw her get out of her car,...

Advoz Release On Racism And Dialogue

Advoz Release On Racism And Dialogue

The violent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and so many other people of color, are tragic, unnecessary and unjust. In acknowledging that we all play a role consciously or subconsciously in the reality of our current position as a community and a nation, we vow...

Adding Voices, Processing Racism

Adding Voices, Processing Racism

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE The violent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and so many other people of color, are tragic, unnecessary and unjust. In acknowledging that we all play a role consciously or subconsciously in the reality of our current...

Chris Wenden Named New Executive Director

Written by the Advoz Board Advoz welcomes a new Executive Director, Chris Wenden, to focus on program expansion and development throughout Lancaster County. “To continue the mission and expand our work and role in the community, the Board of Directors has recruited...

Mission Empathy: Intern Reflections

Mission Empathy: Intern Reflections

By Melisa Betancur A phone call is easy to underestimate. Through my work at Advoz, I learned that a phone call is enough to help build transparency and trust with victims of crimes. The power of empathy flows during these conversations, and I feel the vulnerability...