Organizations are ACT members too!
The Bennington Center for Restorative Justice (CRJ) is a nonprofit community justice agency that provides a full continuum of restorative justice programming and services helping both young people and adults take an active role in becoming positive, contributing members of their community. CRJ serves over 1,500 individuals each year and is funded through a variety of state and private grants, donations, and town funding.
CRJ offers a variety of programs for both young people and adults. For adults, programs offered include court diversion, reparative probation, DRIVe- Driving Responsibly in Vermont, expungement assistance and reentry services. For youth, CRJ offers a wide range of programming including school-based Restorative Alternative Programs (RAP), Truancy Project, pre-charge programming, juvenile court diversion, Youth Substance Abuse Safety Program, The Lounge (youth afterschool program), mentoring, skills building groups and classes.
CRJ also has a new, exciting program called Threads, a free clothing boutique run by-and-for teens in downtown Bennington.
Threads grew out of conversations with a group of youth who were struggling with truancy issues and were involved in the juvenile justice system. All expressed feelings of not fitting in, experienced bullying, feeling ashamed and simply had low self-esteem. CRJ recognized it needed to develop a pathway to help this group rise up out of their feelings of hopelessness and despondency. The teens shared that they did not have the resources to afford new and trendy clothing. The group also shared that shopping at the Goodwill or rummaging through church basement thrift stores can be stigmatizing. The systemic barrier of access to quality teen clothing, regardless of family’s economic status, was addressed by the creation of Threads.
The goal of Threads is to empower teens by offering them a contemporary clothing boutique where they can shop for free, clean, stylish, and trendy clothing. Threads is open to ALL teens, and empowers them to express themselves, increasing their self-esteem and boosting confidence levels.
Threads has proven to be an invaluable resource for community partners whose programming helps teens who have been displaced from homes due to domestic violence, are facing economic hardships including homelessness or are dealing with school-based issues such as truancy and bullying. Threads also helps outfit teens who are entering the workforce, advancing careers and pursuing higher education.
CRJ is partnering with ACT’s Take Care Project to launch “Refresh at Threads,” a new wellness and personal care section stocked with shampoo, soap, deodorant, and menstrual products such as tampons, pads, period underwear, and menstrual cups.
“We are thrilled to partner with ACT to support youth in our community,” states Leitha Cipriano, CRJ’s Executive Director. “It is due to the strength of our partnerships that we are able to build a strong, vibrant, resilient community.” It is the goal of this collaborative partnership to create a welcoming and affirming space for all young people to shop for items they need to be healthy and thriving.