The Greenpoint Youth Court works to restore justice to the community and that’s exactly what it did on March 5th, as members and respondents volunteered at the Greenpoint Reformed Church.
Youth Court gives teenagers a voice. Instead of being suspended or sent to family court for a minor offense, teenagers are referred to Youth Court where they are “tried” by a jury of their peers. The Youth Court members then decide the respondent’s fate, “sentencing” the respondent to community service or a workshop that will be beneficial to them and the community. Restorative justice is what the Youth Court strives for, so that harm done to the community and the teenagers themselves can be repaired. This was achieved last week at the church.
Greenpoint Youth Court members and respondents from Williamsburg Preparatory High School, Williamsburg High School of Architecture and Design and the Green School teamed up with Greenpoint Reformed Church for a day of community service at the Church’s food pantry. Ranging from canned foods to cereal, boxes were brought up from the pantry and organized into groups from which those in need could choose. The volunteers then proceeded to the kitchen where they cooked dinner for a total of seventy local clients. Dessert was made to top it off.
I asked one of the food pantry clients, “How do you feel about this program and its purpose?” She responded by telling me that she used to volunteer at the church but got too sick to help, and now it was helping her. She comes with her husband to the dinner because she knows she’ll always have a place in the church and a seat to sit and converse with other clients. “This program is important and it needs to go on,” she added with conviction.
This can only happen with the community’s help, said Pastor Anne and CB, the programs organizers. Its most important ideology, they added is that everyone is welcome. The church needs the community’s help. They would love more volunteers especially from people who are comfortable taking charge, working with church members and have graphic design skills. The church accepts food donations, including fresh fruits and vegetables, but preferred to be contacted beforehand.
As CB said, “step up and give the community your service.”