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Help Preserve Massachusetts Families

by Our Restorative Justice (formerly Juvenile Court Restorative Justice Diversion)
Help Preserve Massachusetts Families
Help Preserve Massachusetts Families
Help Preserve Massachusetts Families
Help Preserve Massachusetts Families

Dear Donor

 We want to highlight an example of the Children Requiring Assistance (CRA) model that we piloted in 2017, thanks to your support.

Kara, had a “stubborn child” status offense. She got into trouble at school due to repeated outbursts, risky on-line communications, dating, and sexual activity. Simultaneously, her parents were embroiled in a difficult divorce. Amidst their anger, distrust and inability to communicate with each other, Kara’s parents could not support Kara, her brother and sister, or two younger step children. Each parent had Kara working with duplicate social service providers of their own choice. Yet Kara still felt isolated and alone. Neither set of social service providers could reach the core of Kara’s difficulties.

We brought Kara and her parents into an ever-evolving, gradually widening set of restorative Circle practices that included her siblings, social worker, and school personnel. OurRJ staff rebuilt a base line of trust and deeper, and more respectful dialogue within the family. In Circle, Kara shared her trauma due to her first confusing, frightening sexual encounter, and pain from being badly bullied while in a mental health facility. Speaking her truth from her heart, Kara also expressed how she felt abandoned by her parents as a result of their conflict.

Over time in Circle, Kara’s parents were able to listen to one another and to their children, and work together to figure out what was best for their daughter.

Kara’s dual social service requirements have been amended. She now receives the support she needs and has free time for her own interests.

While her mental health challenges remain, Kara now has deeper insights into them. She and her family have learned new skills to cope with challenging events. Kara knows her family and school community care about her and will assist her in recovering from trauma and transitioning into adulthood.

Thank you for your support in diverting young people from incarceration and deepening our restorative practice!

Sincerely in gratitude

Eli Plenk

Program Manager

P.S. We have exciting developments in the coming year on the expansion of our work! If you want to continue supporting restorative justice and our work, visit our website and look out for updates on Global Giving.



Large Group in Circle Photo
Large Group in Circle Photo

Dear Donor,

Over the past three months, we’ve made significant progress towards the development of new programming that helps families cultivate self-sufficiency while addressing conflict. Through the use of restorative practices, we provided support to more young people and their families experiencing proceedings associated with Children Requiring Assistance (CRA) cases (i.e. truancy, run away from home, etc.). Your donations helped us to conduct the following activities: 

  • Continued restorative work on our first CRA case
  • Accepted a second  new CRA case referral into the program
  • Developed and began piloting the new Family Council Model

During this period, our staff provided more opportunities for more participants to achieve deep healing and growth following a juvenile offense. Through our restorative programming, participants were able to address the root causes of harm and the ongoing challenges facing young people, their families and communities.

 “Restorative Justice transforms young people from ‘the problem’ to the ‘problem solvers’ fully involved in how they will help to repair harm. That is powerful and empowering,“ OurRJ Board Member Judge J.D. Blitzman, Nov. 9, 2017.

 On behalf of the community we serve, please accept our deepest gratitude for the support you provide to OurRJ programming. In 2018, we look forward to continuing to develop programming that makes a difference in keeping families together and young people out of court!


Your Friends at Our Restorative Justice

p.s. We will have exciting developments in the coming year! If you want to continue supporting restorative justice programming, keep a look out for our announcement about a new initiative to be piloted in 2018!


Dear Donor,

Your support is helping OurRJ grow our innovative model for families involved in Children Requiring Assistance proceeedings! Over the last three months, your donations helped OurRJ:

  • Accept 2 new CRA case referrals
  • Hold 7 restorative circles, impacting 25 new individuals
  • Continue to hone and improve our CRA model

In particular, OurRJ is working to develop new systems that will help families assume greater agency and self-sufficiency in addressing conflict. OurRJ seeks to help families in CRA proceedings holistically address both the roots of harm and ongoing challenges faced by young people. As we hone our CRA model, we are working to assist families in engaging  existing relationships in a young person’s life, in order to build lasting communities of support.

Still want to know more about the impact of your support? Hear about the transformative impact of restorative justice directly from the young people with whom we work!

"Having to talk about my problems with everyone helped us to understand each other and get everyone together."

"The restorative circle worked really well. It was easy for me to express myself and for everyone to feel heard."

Your support is allowing OurRJ to continue shifting the justice paradigm and, in the process, building stronger Massachusetts communities. Once again, thank you for your commitment to building a better justice system here in the Commonwealth!


The OurRJ Team

P.S. Want to help ensure the continued growth of OurRJ's restorative justice programming? Consider donating to one of our project pages during GlobalGiving's Youth Week, between August 7-12. Your gift will receive a 100% match, doubling the impact of your efforts!


Dear Donor,

OurRJ is thrilled to provide you with an update on the impact your support is having on young people, families, and communities in Massachusetts! Your contributions have allowed us to:

  • Accept and manage 2 Children Requiring Assistance (CRA) status offense cases, with a third case soon to be referred
  • Conduct 4 transformative restorative justice circles
  • Impact at least 15 individuals through our comprehensive, relationship-centered restorative justice process

One powerful example of OurRJ's restorative justice CRA model in action is our work with Andrea and her parents.

Andrea and her family were referred to OurRJ after filing a Children Requiring Assistance (CRA) request. Following her parent's divorce, Andrea was exhibiting concerning behavior, including running away, frequent fights at home, and behavior issues in school. Compounding these challenges were Andrea's mental health needs. At the recommendation of a state agency case worker, Andrea's father filed a CRA application, in order to obtain further services and help address Andrea's troubling behavior. 

However, what Andrea's parents found was an overwhelming tangle of social service providers, state agency caseworkers, court personnel, and referral processes. Rather than addressing the root causes of Andrea's behaviors, her family felt they were at the mercy of a confusing list of conflicting "plans," many of which involved minimal input from Andrea or her parents.  This is where OurRJ came in.

Rather than the siloed services Andrea and her family had been attempting to navigate, OurRJ was able to convene a comprehensive group of service providers, therapists, teachers from Andrea’s school, and caseworkers, and help craft a single centralized plan of action that included meaningful input from Andrea and her parents.

Simultaneously, OurRJ conducted a number of restorative justice circles with Andrea, her parents, and siblings. Using time-honored restorative facilitation techniques, these circles provided a forum for the complex family conflicts taking place to be addressed, while also collaboratively creating a plan of support for Andrea moving forward, with all family members helping to share in the process of accountability. 

According to Program Manager Eli Plenk, Andrea's parents both commented that participating in OurRJ's restorative justice circle process was the first time they felt like their voices were heard. According to Plenk, "I was able to watch the process at work and see them finally able to address some of the real issues at the heart of Andrea's behavior."

Though confronting long-standing, interpersonal issues was challenging at times, both parents felt like the unique restorative justice format provided an opportunity to finally make a meaningful change. As her father remarked, "This process feels like it is actually a solution, that we are finally solving the real problems and helping Andrea.”

Your donation to OurRJ's 'Help Preserve Families Through Restorative Justice Project' is helping us to stem pathways into the juvenile justice system before delinquency occurs among young people just like Andrea. Healthy relationships at school and at home are amongst the most crucial aspects of youth development, and our circle-based restorative justice model for CRA cases is providing families with a space for honest dialogue and collaborative problem solving while connecting them with comprehensive, long-term services. 

On behalf of all of the youth and families with whom we work, thank you again for your generous contribution.


The OurRJ Team

P.S. Check out OurRJ's other project page, and learn more about how we are using restorative justice to keep youth in school and out of the court system!  



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Organization Information

Our Restorative Justice (formerly Juvenile Court Restorative Justice Diversion)

Location: Lowell, MA - USA
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @Our_RJ
Our Restorative Justice (formerly Juvenile Court Restorative Justice Diversion)
Meghan Higgins
Project Leader:
Meghan Higgins
Lowell, MA United States

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