JAVA - Amy Davis
JAVA - which stands for Justice, Accountability, & Victim Advocacy is a non-profit serving the local community. While our mission focuses heavily on seeking justice for victims, there's a piece that requires advocacy work. Prior to COVID, that meant helping victims' and their families navigate the justice system, getting them in touch with detectives, prosecutors, counselors, pastors, etc. We spent a lot of time helping them through court hearings, paperwork, and frankly, sometimes just sitting and listening, being a shoulder to cry on. Lending an ounce of hope. Praying continuously.
When the pandemic hit, things changed! Courts closed. We were no longer holding monthly meetings. Our fundraiser was cancelled. Like most other businesses, it felt very much like our door was closed. However, we are essential. We have more than 1500 members relying on us daily. They look for our posts on our Facebook page. They watch everything we do and don't do. We knew our members needed us more than ever. Those who have lost a child can understand the overwhelming feelings of loneliness. When that's compounded because you're quarantined at home, alone, with all those memories, it's a struggle. It's also very dangerous for a depressed person to be left alone with himself/herself.
For these reasons, our advocacy portion of JAVA shifted slightly. As we were doing check-ins with our members, we were hearing that they were hungry. They were out of work and couldn't provide the simplest necessities -like food. Personally, I couldn't even imagine sending my kids to bed hungry and I didn't want anyone else to have to do that. We immediately kicked into high gear and started finding new ways to serve our families.
With the help of the Calvary congregation, Matilda Jane Clothing, the Salvation Army, Alive Community Outreach, Human Agriculture, Big Mamma's BBQ, EACS, and private donors, we kept our shelf stocked the entire time.
At any given time, we were passing out dry goods, meat, fresh produce, clothes, dinners, school lunches, toiletries, masks, and cleaning supplies to 5-12 families.
We also have pre-signed sympathy cards for new families we were forced to welcome to this journey. We were able to take a card and a care package along with a list of resources to those in need.
Our very own Theresa Juillerat lost her son in the midst of all this. We set a fundraiser for her, helping raise more than $20k - which allowed her the proper burial for Chris.
We also partnered with Alive Community Outreach and Mothers to Mothers for grief support sessions each Friday at noon.
Courts were closed to the public but we were still able to follow cases and communicate the results to the families. For example, the McMillen/Harmeyer family who has been seeking justice for their beloved Stacy for almost 2 decades. A warrant was issued on 3/24 for the alleged killer and she was transported from WI to IN shortly thereafter. She had her initial hearing on April 2nd at which time she was denied bond. The April 15th hearing was rescheduled to May 18th due to COVID. She's had several motions filed by her attorney, including requesting to be released on bail (denied of course), and her trial is set for 1/11/21. JAVA has and will continue to support Stacy's family through each step of the process.
Last but not least, JAVA leaders and members volunteered in the community. We packaged and distributed meals for the YMCA from mid March through the end of May.