Restorative schools is a first benefit of merger

CCP, CRS join to offer proactive, responsive and restorative conflict services under one roof

February 16, 2017 was a bitter, cold and blustery day, but that didn’t deter a stalwart band of peace-builders from venturing onto Lancaster’s Penn Square to “flash” the new name and merger of Lancaster County’s two long-serving organizations addressing conflict and crime to form a one-stop-shop for face-to-face dialogue programs: Advoz.

Pronounced “ad-vōss,” the word comes from the Latin for ‘voice,’ inherently meaning, ‘adding voice to dialogue.’ Its expanded mission, to transform conflict and build community with face-to-face dialogue programs, was discerned by consensus by the boards of both founding organizations.

Lancaster has a rich tradition of leadership in building peace. The Lancaster Mediation Center (later CRS) was founded in 1980 early in the US mediation movement. Similarly in 1994, LAVORP (later CCP) was formed at an early stage in the restorative justice movement. By 2017, both organizations worked in ever more proactive ways with people in conflict and have come of age.

The merger now allows Advoz to take a new proactively with local schools. With restorative practices technique of inclusive dialogue and classroom circle process, Advoz is part of a movement gaining steam nationwide to reverse the harmful trends of zero-tolerance discipline that exclude youth from their peers and increase their chances of lifelong criminal involvement. In 2016, 30% of juvenile justice cases referred to restorative justice from around Lancaster County happened at schools. Already underway at the School District of Lancaster, Advoz’s Restorative Schools project will equip more schools to address harm in youth violations “upstream” and prevent needless justice system involvement.

Lancaster County has been unique in Pennsylvania having two active services for mediation and restorative justice. While such services are legislated in other states because of their effectiveness and efficiency, our programs have thrived because of cooperative relationships with our county courts and generous community contributions.

Your support has made possible the joining of two leading programs in an even more effective and innovative force, bringing together more than 60 highly trained volunteers with a streamlined administration and board of directors. Your involvement—donations, event participation, facilitating, volunteering, praying, spreading the word—your voice—helps to realize the potential of our community to truly transform conflict into an opportunity for growth.

Arun Gandhi to recount boyhood lessons with grandfather

In what is shaping up to be a unique and interactive kickoff dinner event for Advoz, Dr. Arun Gandhi will literally speak “around the table” in an in-person interview  with Scott LaMar, WITF’s Radio Smart Talk host, who is also receiving the first Dignity in Dialogue Award on May 4, 5 pm, at Spooky Nook’s Olympic Hall.

Arun Gandhi grew up experiencing bullying and racism as a youth in South Africa, but learned about peacemaking and reconciliation during the two years he lived with his grandfather, Mohandas Gandhi. The elder Gandhi, a lawyer, pacifist and an activist, became the leader of the Indian independence movement.

Dr. Gandhi founded the M.K. Gandhi institute of Nonviolence in Rochester, NY, to help young people achieve a nonviolent, sustainable and just world. He has authored and edited several books on nonviolence, social justice and his grandparents’ legacy.

The event theme, Peace: The Next Generation asks, “How do we build a culture of peace in a divisive world, particularly for our youth and succeeding generations?” And the event will facilitate conversation on the theme around every table to add your voice. Find out more and register at:

Register for Around the Table

Adding Voice – Advoz is Born

Merger of Center for Community Peacemaking and Conflict Resolution Services unifies dialogue programs

The 14 year-old boy looked down at the floor through most of the dialogue session. Then the others in the room, those he had robbed, asked him, “what do you want to do with your future?” There was a pregnant pause.  He grasped for an answer; he wasn’t prepared for such a question about his life, his purpose.

It’s a scene that plays out again and again in restorative victim-offender dialogue.

After writing the acclaimed Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey later identified a wholly different “eighth habit” that gives people purpose and greatness: finding your voice and helping others find their voice.

Covey’s work, which arose from feedback on his original groundbreaking book, shows a growing understanding that communication and empathy are both moral imperatives and survival skills in our post-industrial economy.

And “voice” has become a central theme of forming Advoz from two dialogue-focused organizations joining. Our name, Advoz, discerned unanimously by more than 20 board and staff members, derives from the Latin for “voice,” or “adding voice to dialogue.” And an imperative for “adding voice” shows up again and again in our work:

  • The young offender who is asked about his life vision;
  • The crime victim who gets to be heard by those most involved in the violation;
  • The neighbor listening for the first time to the other side of their dispute;
  • The group that shifts their focus to their talents and vision and away from their weaknesses and divisions.

Add to all this the disempowering political news cycle, and it’s clear: the need for “adding voice” is more pressing than ever, in our personal, professional and community lives.

Your involvement with CCP, CRS and now Advoz, is now playing a growing part in cultivating “purpose and greatness” in Lancaster County and beyond.


Lancaster Peacebuilders Join to Create Advoz

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:

What’s on Deck? Dialogue Trainings & Events this Spring

It is happening. The joining of two long-serving peace-building organizations is underway…and so much else. Together, the Center for Community Peacemaking and Conflict Resolution Services are offering more trainings, services and events this spring. So we’ll be rolling out quite a few bullet-updates, here’s the first: An intensive Restorative Justice & Practices training is on Friday, March 17, 9 am – 4 pm, geared especially for those working with young people. Prior restorative justice skills helpful but not required. 

More on these and other events, go to:

Mediation Training – Basic

April 6-8 and April 27-29, 2017 (Modules 1 & 2)

Learn and practice interpersonal communication and conflict resolution skills through presentations, group discussions and role plays.

Practice each step of the mediation process with discussion of topics like ethics. Participants practice their new skills by role playing three times as a mediator and one time as a disputant with outside role players.

Around the Table with Arun Gandhi

Thurs., May 4, 2017
5-8:30 pm
Spooky Nook Olympic Hall

Join us for a benefit dinner & reception “around the table” in a conversation with the grandson of Mohandas Gandhi, on Peace: The Next Generation and how we can build a culture of peace in Lancaster and beyond.