Monday, April 13, 2015

From the desk of Colleen Smith
NCS Clinical Coordinator

On Friday April 10th, I attended the Paving the Way to Healing and Recovery Conference hosted by the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center. The event brought together over 200 individuals interested in bringing healing and justice to communities which have been affected by violence.  This included my incredible coworkers, Reentry Case Manager Latania Cobb and Outreach Worker Middy Brown, as well as one of our amazing Newark United Against Violence (NUAV) participants, Khalif Harris. Together they facilitated a break out session entitled Growing Up and Growing Out: Providing Meaningful Assistance to Young Men Who Have Been Affected by Violence. My only job was to get them there safely – which I did despite rush hour traffic and a very quick stop at the wrong location.

There is something electrifying about a good conference. Each panel offers new perspective, ideas, and energy. This event was no exception and our NUAV team did a remarkable job. Throughout the one hour panel the audience in attendance was nodding in agreement, laughing, and even crying. For his part, Khalif explained to those in attendance what made NUAV meaningful for him. He highlighted the accepting, familial atmosphere of the program and described the significance for him of painting the NUAV office as part of his transitional work program, and then returning to that same office for services. Latania and Middy then spoke about how their respective social work and outreach roles help to create the atmosphere Khalif described. The panel finished up with a message of hope, from Khalif who let the audience know that healing is possible.  As we were preparing to leave, I was approached by an audience member who said that I must be very proud of my team.  Proud YES and INSPIRED!

On behalf of that team I would like to extend a huge thank you to the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center for letting us share our story.  Here is a link to more conference info on the Mediation Center site.

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