After Eight Years . . . Eight Days of Gratitude - Part 5

Here’s Part 5 of my “8 days of gratitude” for the people who have helped me along the way.

For the past 5 years, I’ve been beyond lucky to have had some wicked-smart, roll-up-the-sleeves, creative-thinking interns working with me at the RMO. I could not have carried the workload of managing the RMO as a part-time Director without them. They kept me sane, on track, and organized, and they busted their butts to help me make sure all the day-to-day work of the RMO got done and done well. More importantly, by asking thoughtful, curious and sometimes off-beat questions, they challenged my thinking and expanded my vision about what was possible in our work together. Then, they helped to bring some of that expanded vision to fruition, each in his or her own unique way, utilizing their individual and considerable gifts and talents.

They are our next generation of leaders and will have a profoundly positive impact on the communities where they live and do their work. Their commitment, energy, and passion for justice gives me great hope for the future!

My first two interns, in Spring, 2013, Maddie D’Almeida and Rosa Wiley, were juniors in the Social Work program at my undergrad alma mater, Elizabethtown College. Maddie and Rosa brought fresh energy, enthusiasm, and curiosity to the work of the RMO, and they helped re-connect me with the fundamentals of social work.

During the whole 2013-2014 academic year, Jonathan Queen, M. Div candidate at Lancaster Theological Seminary, helped to expand our work with partner churches through the Healing Communities trainings and follow-up technical support to help churches to implement plans to make their congregations places of welcome inclusion for returning citizens and their families. Jonathan is now the youth pastor at a church in Maryland, and he’s CEO and President of New Mindz.

Naomi Leapheart, another M. Div. candidate at Lancaster Theological Seminary, worked with me during the 2014-15 academic year. Naomi organized a major series of educational events related to the criminal justice system, including several film screenings, several book studies, an exhibit of artwork by formerly incarcerated artists, a “Teach-in” that brought together returning citizens, faith leaders, academics, and human services professionals to explore issues of mass incarceration, and an ecumenical worship service led by returning citizens side by side with local clergy. Naomi is now the Faith Work Director at the National LGBTQ Task Force and she teaches at Villanova University.

In Autumn, 2015, Toni Warfel, Lock Haven University Criminal Justice major, interned with the RMO. Toni helped to organize and schedule the 12-hour life skills course our RMO partners taught pro-bono at Lancaster County Prison, and she helped to process referrals to the RMO Intensive program. Toni is now the Inmate Services Supervisor at Lancaster County Prison.

In the spring of 2016, Yeissel Cordero, BSW candidate at Millersville University, helped to get our new RMO office at Adult Probation and Parole set up and organized, then turned her attention to managing our RMO Reentry Course at LCP and referrals to the RMO Intensive program.

During the summer of 2016, Gabriel Kemp, who was then just a high school junior, got our RMO website updated, organized a huge donation drive to secure men’s and women’s toiletries kits for our returning citizens, and put together orientation notebooks for all members of the RMO’s Board of Directors.

During the fall semester of 2016, Leye Owolabi, F&M Communications major, amped up the RMO’s communications and social media game, and patiently schooled me in the basics of how (and how NOT) to use social media. Leye just graduated from F&M in May.

Lindsay Mays, MSW student at Millersville, interned with the RMO for the entire 2016-2017 academic year. She helped to get our new trauma training initiative for parole officers and corrections officers up and running, and provided case management and other supports for members of the weekly Successful Returning Citizens group, as well as the many returning citizens who come into the RMO office on a daily basis looking for assistance with a variety of needs. Lindsay is now working for a prisoner reentry initiative in Colorado.

Beckah Shenk, BSW student at Millersville, was my intern for the Spring 2017 semester. She developed a new partnership with the owner of a local gym to offer free access to members of the RMO’s Successful Returning Citizens group to improve their health, and initiated a major donations drive to secure women’s health and hygiene supplies. She also provided case management and other support for numerous returning citizens who came to the RMO office looking for resources. Beckah now works at the Youth Intervention Center in Lancaster.

Loren Waltz, MSW student at Millersville, was with the RMO for the 2017-2018 academic year. Loren represented the RMO at community outreach events and speaking engagements, did advocacy and education work related to women’s issues in the prison system, and provided case management and resource referrals for clients in our RMO office and at the Successful Returning Citizens group. Loren just accepted a position as a caseworker with Milagro House in Lancaster.

Lisa Filippelli, Millersville BSW student, served as an RMO intern for the Spring 2018 semester. Lisa organized and managed the RMO Reentry Resources Center at our office at 40 East King Street, secured donations and handled distribution to returning citizens of toiletries, bus passes, gift cards, food, clothing and other items, and managed documentation and reporting of all of our services and client outcomes in our various programs. Lisa is now in the MSW program at Millersville.

Mark Harris, Masters of Divinity candidate at Lancaster Theological Seminary, has served the RMO through his LTS Field Education placement since the summer of 2017. Mark spearheaded a major effort to broaden support for the work of the RMO within the faith community, initiating new relationships and building on existing relationships between the RMO and numerous congregations across Lancaster County and across the theological spectrum. He has also served as a mentor for the RMO’s Successful Returning Citizens group for the past year, and has become a certified trainer for our Healing Communities initiative.

And now, I’m thrilled to announce that Mark has accepted the position of RMO Interim Director while the RMO Board and CAP carry out the hiring process to fill the RMO Director position long-term.

Mark is a thoughtful, insightful leader and relationship-builder, with a long-standing commitment to and passion for social justice issues. He also has over 20 years of management experience, along with experience in fundraising and event planning. He will be such an asset to the RMO and I’m so very grateful he was interested and willing to step into this role!

My last day in the RMO office as Director is Thursday, June 28. Mark will officially take the reins at the RMO on Monday, July 2. Please be sure to congratulate and welcome him! The email address he’ll be using for RMO business is .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Thank you, Maddie!
Thank you, Rosa!
Thank you, Jonathan!
Thank you, Naomi!
Thank you, Toni!
Thank you, Yeissel!
Thank you, Gabriel!
Thank you, Leye!
Thank you, Lindsay!
Thank you, Beckah!
Thank you, Loren!
Thank you, Lisa!

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