Healing through Engagement
Imagine a program that brings together the victim of a crime, the perpetrator and the impacted community to solve local challenges brought about by crime. Lou Nelson volunteers for such a program in River Falls, Wisconsin. The St. Croix Valley Restorative Justice Program(SCVRJP), engages community members to be active particpants in a healing process.
Lou has made a significant impact as a resource to the executive director and board of directors at SCVRJP. Lou helps screen and hire new staff, supports office procedures, edits documents and consults strategically with the director. Lou also serves by actively being involved in several programs offered at SCVRJP. Lou addressed 120 people at the first fundraiser for SCVRJP. Her presentation touched the audience and inspiried many of them to volunteer.
Lou has been an active role model for young people and their relationship to other adult community members. Many of the young people she interacts with feel she brings “grandmotherly” support. In turn, this type of relationship connects young people to their community.
That connection results in creating motivation to help and serve. Many young people who’ve taken part in SCVRJP prorams go on to teach others the benefits and importance of restorative justice. They’ve even initiated the process of restorative justice themselves. One such group of youth responded to issues in their community park by holding a potluck and restorative justice session.
This type of activity is consistent with Lou’s belief in the importance of community and providing resources and role models to youth. The number of individuals that Lou has inspired may be difficult to quantify; but her impact in the community and her value to the staff of SCVRJP is not. Lou Nelson is an important part of their mission of healing through engagement, and she takes that role very serioulsy.