I started this experience with little knowledge on justice reform, and I am nearing the end of this program with new perspectives and outlooks on jail diversion and possibilities for community courts. When I read and listen to the stories from all the other students in the cohort, I sometimes find myself questioning my experience, or if I did enough. My project consisted of research, research, more research, and helping finalize grant applications. The downside to this project is that I don’t necessarily have a final presentation or project to show off, but it is instead a culmination of work on different topics.
Thankfully I have a great relationship with my mentor LaNeice, and she never fails to remind me of my contributions and support to the organization, and it provides me the reassurance that I still worked hard this summer, even if I don’t have the same outcome as other fellows. This, though, has given me insight into nonprofit work. Ideas, schedules, and research changes, and it can be difficult to predict outcomes for even just the next month. With nonprofit work, outcomes or impacts are not always seen immediately, and since we have just finished sending in our grant applications, we still have to wait to hear results.
Nonprofit work isn’t easy, and it is even harder when there is a constant concern for funding. SWDCJC and I have come up with great ideas for future projects, but the problem is that they currently just do not have the funding or staff available to make these happen. LaNeice and SWDCJC have given me a great summer with a lot of learning, so I made sure to give it my all, and I’m still working hard, to put together as much extensive research as I can to help them secure funding.
I’ve learned so much more about community courts, whether they be a drug court, mental-health court, family court, or just jail diversion in general. They have such an impact on communities, and families, and it is so important to invest in these programs.