Contributed by Jennifer Thompson, Insight Prison Project, CA
Congratulations to the very dedicated volunteer Karen Jandorff for winning the 2011 Center for Volunteer and Nonprofits Leadership’s “Volunteer of the Year” Award! Not only did Karen get acknowledged for her work, IPP received a generous $5,000 gift from Brayton Purcell LLP in Novato, California. Karen’s outstanding work within IPP includes facilitating weekly Victim Offender Education Group (VOEG) classes inside San Quentin State Prison and inside FCI Dublin, serving as chief editor of IPP’s first ever Annual Report and supporting fundraising endeavors. Many thanks to Karen for her heart felt and continued support of IPP. She is IPP’s volunteer extraordinaire!
Karen Jandorf wrote the piece below on her work inside San Quentin:
“I am in awe of the confluence of the ancestral, cultural, and historical trauma that is held here. There is a man who, as a young man, marched from Selma to Montgomery with Dr. King and another whose mother and father lost their entire families to the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. There is a young man who, with his family, were what we in the United States used to refer to as “Vietnamese Boat People” and another who, as an angry young man, joined AIM, the American Indian Movement. There is a man whose father was never called anything but “boy” or “the N word” in the heart of South Carolina, a man who refers to himself as a “redneck logger” from Redding, and a man who relates growing up in the Black Beverly Hills and being given every possible opportunity. They are Christian and Muslim, Agnostic and Buddhist, Native American and Jewish. In a place where race and ethnicity is usually a solid dividing line, we sit in our circle and contain it all, respect it all, and begin to recognize that, as one of the men understood, “At the heart of who we are, we are more alike than different.”