Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Photos Of An Amazing Anniversary Celebration

Over 200 people filled the Park View Mennonite Church Social Hall Friday evening, April 10, to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of Gemeinschaft Home. The event raised over $6000 for the program and for the cost of the publication of its history, free copies of which were available that evening.

Some of the special guests at the event were Delegate Tony Wilt, Virginia Senate candidate April Moore, the Honorable Judge John Paul, Social Services Director Don Driver, Board of Supervisors members Rick Chandler and Fred Eberly, and City Council member Kai Degner. Past Gemeinschaft pioneers like Titus Bender, Barry Hart, Glendon Blosser, Jim Gilkeson and Jenni Amison were also given special recognition.

 Gemeinschaft board member John Butler, a graduate of Gemeinschaft, was the capable emcee of the event. John remains very active as a volunteer and community mentor for the residents, many of whom served as waiters for the delicious meal prepared for the occasion, thanks to the Home's beloved and accomplished chef, Brenda Leigh, Gemeinschaft 'house mother' and inspirational role model for the men.

Mercedies Harris, another Gemeinschaft graduate, told us how much the program helped him at a critical time in his life. He is now a minister in Waynesboro and is serving on the Governor's Task Force On Restoration of Rights.

Howard Zehr, internationally known pioneer of the restorative justice movement and professor emeritus of EMU's Center For Peace and Justice, gave the keynote address. With the restorative justice model, he said, we ask a different set of questions, not simply about what crime was committed and how an offender should be punished, but the question of who has been wronged, and how can restitution be made that satisfied the needs of the victim?

Commonwealth's Attorney Marsha Garst gave a an enthusiastic response to Zehr's speech, emphasizing her growing conviction that restorative justice is not "soft on crime", but can in many cases be the best way to hold offender's accountable to make their wrongs right.

Gemeinschaft (Gah MINE Shoft), a German word that means community, is exceedingly grateful for the growing support they feel from the Harrisonburg and surrounding communities.

Visit Gemeinshaft's website or its Facebook page to find out how you can become involved as a supporter of the Home.

Photos courtesy of Gemeinschaft Board chair Dr. Sam Showalter.

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