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Getting Things Done For Ohio

Every day, Ohioans are making extraordinary contributions to the communities where they live, work, and play. Learn more about the impact AmeriCorps members and volunteers have on the communities they serve, stay current on service and volunteerism trends, and be the first to know about upcoming funding opportunities, events, and special initiatives.


rverhoffkiss
rverhoffkiss

Rebeccah Verhoff-Kiss, Outreach & Education Officer, ServeOhio

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Justice Talking: The Meaning of Service

Justice Talking is a reading and discussion program for AmeriCorps members featuring facilitated discussions that use short philosophical and literary texts, images, and videos on the nature of justice, service and related themes. In partnership with Ohio Humanities, ServeOhio trains AmeriCorps members to facilitate Justice Talking with their fellow Corps members, where they become more familiar with the art of humanities-based discussion and have a better understanding of the importance of civic reflection. Sierra Faris is a Justice Talking facilitator with the COMCorps AmeriCorps program in Athens. Read her reflections on the impact Justice Talking has had on her service.

Justice Talking has been an extraordinarily valuable element of my time in service. I am honored to have the privilege of being a Justice Talking facilitator for both years that I have decided to serve as a COMCorps member in Southeast Ohio.

To me, Justice Talking is a respectful space where others can share about their life and service experiences while relating to the artistic piece that is reflected on. It is a space to encourage civil discourse about real things that are happening in the world and it is an opportunity to be open-minded and understand that people will likely have differing perspectives that are based on their personal experiences. In my experience, Justice Talking has never become a space for debate and that has allowed people to openly share very intimate details of their personal life. It is extremely powerful when others are able to share these incredibly personal experiences with the group they are serving with. It is a way to put our trauma-informed care approach into practice of listening, sharing, and gaining a deeper understanding of others. One such personal story shared within a Justice Talking session was by a young woman who told the group about her experience as a teen mom and some of the lessons gained from that experience. It is always beautiful to witness Justice Talking become a space that encourages this deep level of personal sharing.

The first Justice Talking of this year was a reflection on “Helping, Fixing or Serving?” an excerpt from Rachel Naomi Remen. This very first session inspired so much comradery in the Corps and felt extremely magical. Our service members were able to immediately relate the piece to their service, which was inspiring to know that we all serve with our wholeness and consider those we serve as equals. It was beautiful to hear so many stories of how service has been renewing to members and the session reminded all of us of why we have chosen a life of service to others. I highly recommend this as the first Justice Talking piece for all service organizations, or at least a priority piece. Another extremely personal story was shared within this session by a member I serve alongside. This person shared about their experience of formerly suffering from heroin addiction and used the lessons of the inadequate service received to improve their own service to others.

Personally, I feel that my empathy has expanded by hearing the stories and details that service members have willingly shared during Justice Talking. This strengthening of my empathy has helped me to strengthen my humanity, which in turn strengthens my service. One of our service members related to a quote that says “hurt people hurt people” but after this piece realized that “hurt people help people” is just as accurate. We all choose service because we understand our connection to this world and to others. Justice Talking is a time to reflect on that choice and remind others of the deep lessons that can come from service if we remember to keep our minds and hearts open.

- Sierra Faris, COMCorps AmeriCorps Member



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