We have a new name, fresh faces on the board, and even a new Director. When the Victim-Offender Reconciliation Program of Southeast South Dakota incorporated in 1989, who could have predicted the path it would take and the many people it would touch. By enabling harmed and harm-doer to participate in a dialogue to discuss the consequences of the harm, have questions answered, allow legitimate feelings to be expressed and concerns acknowledged and to begin the process of moving forward again toward balance, wholeness and hope-Restorative Justice has changed many lives and many minds.
As VORP turns 20, we give thanks: for the tireless efforts of past and present board members, staff, supporters, contributors, churches, individuals and organizations; to those who have prayed or volunteered-or even purchased a quilt at one of the fundraisers. We especially thank Lois Preheim for guiding and directing the program with vision, energy, and tireless faith almost since its inception. Lois remains involved as a mediator, mentor, and a friend to the program and to program friends. Interestingly, Lois and I first met at a 1986 conference in Indiana, part of a handful of fledgling programs bold enough to dream about the places this novel approach to justice might lead. Neither of us could have known how our paths would cross again, but I’m glad they did. Today, both of us remain inspired by the promise of restorative justice. We have seen how far we have come, and the challenges and opportunities which lie ahead. Lois has been a pioneer, a visionary, and an inspiration. I value her friendship greatly.
With time, growth, and maturity, comes also change. I have always liked this definition of change: “a transition; to go from one phase into another-as the moon or like the seasons.” Change always involves risk, stepping from the known into the yet to be known. Yet change is vital. Anatole France observed: “If we do not change, we do not grow; if we do not grow, then we aren’t really alive. Changing our name to R E S T O R E, INC. is a reflection of what lies at the heart of the promise of restorative justice. To restore is to renew, to refresh, to give back, to return. As we revisit our roots, we broaden the scope of our vision and our mission. As we move into a “new season” we will continue-with God’s help and the help of God’s people-to re-vision restorative solutions to those harmed by conflict: solutions that empower and recognize the worth and dignity of every human being.
Thank again for your long and unwavering history of care, prayer, and concern and for your dedication to the ideals of restorative justice-justice that heals by transforming relationships-and assumptions.