Why I Give
by Yasmina Mrabet, NVMS Board President
There are many nonprofits that offer important social services, but not all offer a path to a brighter future. It is critical to provide the kinds of services that encourage positive social and cultural change. Supporting organizations that facilitate the development of skills, knowledge and experience that help people negotiate life and its challenges, while preserving relationships, is a valuable gift for individuals and communities. NVMS and other community dispute resolution centers provide these services year-round.
Unfortunately, our society includes systems that do not allow people to live up to their potential. An economic and political environment that has allowed the growth of a school to prison pipeline, for example, must be countered by the kinds of alternatives offered by an organization like NVMS. Instead of relying on zero-tolerance policies and the penal system to discipline children, the Fairfax County government is working with Police, Juvenile Courts, Schools, and NVMS to implement Restorative Justice (RJ) programs. Out of 128 youth participating in the Police-referred program with NVMS so far, only one has been re-arrested. In addition to the nearly 0% recidivism rate, youth participants learn from RJ and victims have a say in the outcome. Typically, non-RJ recidivism rates of re-arrest in Virginia are 26-44%.
Holding kids accountable while keeping them in school is the way to move forward in the vast majority of incidents. Students without access to RJ often experience suspensions, expulsions and/or criminal records that significantly increase risk factors for future criminal activities. Repeat suspensions in middle school triple the probability of later involvement with the criminal justice system (US Dept. of Education, US Dept. of Justice, 2012).
In a legal system that handles divorce and other family conflicts in a clinical and detached manner with a high monetary cost, NVMS offers mediation processes that are aimed at amicable, practical resolutions that help families maintain respect and empathy for one another. These services are offered on a sliding scale so that cost does not prevent families from their right to peacefully address conflicts.
NVMS offers services outside the legal system as well. For workplaces and industries that are characterized by high stress and high turnover, NVMS offers training and services to encourage work practices that are collaborative and productive. Colleagues resolve issues and create structures to work collaboratively with greater satisfaction and less distraction from conflicts.
So, when I am asked why I give to NVMS, my response is not because I get a tax break, or because it’s a holiday season of giving. I give because I want to see a world where people, including youth and families, engage in conflict positively and productively. In a world full of war and destruction, I feel a duty and social responsibility to support organizations that work for peace. As the saying goes, no one can give everything, but everyone can give something.
Yasmina Mrabet is an organizer and conflict resolution practitioner. She grew up in the Middle East, North Africa, and the United States in a cross-cultural, interfaith household. As a Community Organizer with ONE DC, Yasmina works to develop political education programs and organizes to support tenant-led campaigns against displacement and gentrification. Previously, as a union organizer with UFCW Local 400, Yasmina worked to develop Project Retail, a growing group of retail and food workers fighting for living wages, fair working conditions, and access to public transportation in and around Washington, D.C. She is President of the Board of Directors of NVMS, a community conflict resolution organization based in Fairfax, Virginia. Yasmina holds a BA from the University of Virginia in Middle Eastern Studies and a MS from George Mason University in Conflict Analysis and Resolution.