Like many citizens, retired music professor Marge Maust and her partner Sandy Bahr have been dismayed and disheartened by accounts of increasing violence in communities and schools.
Their conversations on the topic eventually centered around two questions: Who to help? How to help?
In our conversations, we came to the consensus that we need to reach the children in our communities to teach and practice another way of dealing with our differences and disagreements. And who better to do that than our teachers who in many cases spend more quality time with students? If teachers could model and teach a way of working together to solve problems with patience, mutual respect, trust and connection, these children could then incorporate those skills in the professions and relationships in which they choose to be involved as adults.
This theory of change led them to CJP.
Brainstorming opportunities and possibilities with CJP Development Director Lindsay Martin and former executive director Daryl Byler eventually led to a beneficial result.
The couple funded 30 SPI Community Day scholarships to help introduce local educators to peacebuilding and restorative justice concepts. They also sponsored 20 local educators to attend EMU’s Restorative Justice in Education Conference and a special extra day of training to work on individual implementation plans. In its fourth year, the summertime event for novice and experienced practitioners brings in more than 100 educators from around Virginia and other states to learn from and be inspired by each other to make change in their classrooms.
While many donors wait to gift money in their wills, Maust and Bahr have decided they want to contribute to a better world today. After all, if just one of those teachers returns to the classroom and helps one child to learn more peaceful ways of interaction, the impact is immediate and beneficial. “We figured that if we assisted our teachers now rather than later,” Maust said, “those same children they are teaching can pass it forward that much sooner.”
The same philosophy – “getting the ball rolling while we are still living” – drives a few of their other philanthropic efforts at CJP. “It gives us great hope to know that we are contributing to the lives of persons who are committed to making the world a more peaceful and just place” Maust said.
Decide the areas you’d like to help impact. Make an appointment to meet with EMU’s Development Office. Get creative and brainstorm opportunities. See your donation make a difference!