CraWaLa’s mission is to improve the quality of life and public safety within the participating counties by helping to reduce crime, delinquency, and recidivism, and to promote public health and safety.
Charitable organization to provide programs and services which assist individuals, primarily youth, at risk of academic failure, who are at risk of or involved in the juvenile justice system, or exhibit delinquent or anti-social behavior, toward becoming responsible, productive, law-abiding citizens; and to provide wholesome educational and recreational youth activities, instructional courses, and other supplementary services that carry out the mission of the organization.
- Redirect the lives of at risk youth toward becoming law abiding, positive, and contributing members of society through programs and services such as but not limited to; mentoring, advocacy, tutoring, and job readiness, and so on.
- Seek to change conditions that weaken the community and put its youth at risk, through activities such as the building of community organizations, community development/ redevelopment, and efforts directed at improving community environmental, educational, and political and other problem conditions such as crime, and poverty.
To provide, but not limited to:
- Community-based mentoring to youth between the ages of 8 and 18. Matching youth with a positive adult (21+) role model for 12-months, meeting 1 ½ hours per week.
- Advocacy services on behalf of the local population, both youth and their families, either: directly with employers, parents, schools and other service providers; or with the key persons of the juvenile justice system (i.e., police, courts and the Department/Division), or indirectly through such actions as assisting youth and families to seek advocacy services in the community.
- Direct services to the youth themselves when deemed necessary; serve as a means of involving community resident s. direct services shall be: identified and developed by the local residents.
- Recruit, train, and maintain community committee(s) or volunteers.
- Raise funds to sustain organization’s programs and services.
Programs, Projects & Services
- AmeriCorps VISTA – Community Impact Project
- Community organizing, advocacy & direct services
- Mentoring (Youth age 8 to 18)
- Balanced & Restorative Justice Programs
- Tutoring (Youth age 5 to 18)
Board of Directors Officers
Judge Robert Hopkins, President
Jeff Bradley, Vice-President
Mary K. Benefiel, Treasurer/Secretary
D Marie Goff
CraWaLa Organizational History
Under the leadership of Judge Philip B. Benefiel, a community committee initiated a volunteer mentoring program in Lawrence County in 1970. In 1973, Wabash and Crawford counties joined the organization – hence the name CraWaLa. The program was primarily supported by local county court funds, donations, and fundraisers. Since 1970, the organization has supported over 600 mentor/mentee relationships within 17 Southeastern Illinois counties.
In 1997, CraWaLa was granted a contract with the Illinois Department of Human Department of Community Youth Services, to provide “Community Organizing, Advocacy, and Direct Services” in thirteen Southeastern Illinois counties. Since 1997, the organization has assisted local communities providing technical assistance, organizing act ivies, and training to community groups in the organizing and implementation of after-school programs, Summer Food & Recreational programs (assistance from IL ISBE & US Dept. of Agriculture); mentoring programs; community centers; local area network; organizing and implementation of local and circuit-wide juvenile justice councils; local substance abuse prevention community groups and coalitions in formation and implementation; apply for grants; and assisting organizations with their 501( c)(3) application, NFP organizing, policies and procedure development; and award such as but not limited to statewide organizations Illinois Balanced & Restorative Justice Project, and Illinois Association of Juvenile Justice Councils. The organization staff have advocated in behave of youth and their families with schools, courts, law enforcement, local government, child-welfare, and criminal justice system. The organization provided direct services such as mentoring, court advocacy, and tutoring services to at risk youth (risk of academic failure and involvement in the juvenile justice system), and their families.
Since 2009, the organization has been an AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) program Sponsor in Illinois. The project is a statewide initiative focused to fight poverty by providing assistance to local community organizations whose focus is juvenile justice reform, restorative justice, education, literacy, financial literacy, employment, job readiness, and veterans/military and their families. Since 2009, over 100 individuals have volunteered to serve in Illinois communities assisting local c not-for-profit and government agencies with program development, implementation, community outreach and mobilization, capacity building, and sustainability activities. Recruiting volunteers, and helping raise funds for program sustainability. The VISTAs have provided assistance in communities organizing, mobilizing, capacity building and sustainability of local county Drug Courts, and supporting organizations, family violence coalition, substance abuse prevention coalitions, juvenile justice councils, juvenile justice reform, implementing Stone Soup project in south Chicago, after-school and summer programs, mentoring and tutoring programs, and financial literacy programs.
The organization continues to be involved in providing mentoring services in Lawrence County; tutoring after-school program (Night Owls) with Lawrenceville Parkside Elementary School; working within the community of Lawrence County to organize the local Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition; partnering with other community groups in behave of community youth and families; and the statewide AmeriCorps VISTA Community Impact Project placing VISTAs in communities across the state of Illinois. The organization continues to provide technical assistance and training in areas such as Restorative Justice, Bridges out of Poverty, Teen-Court, Community Organizing, How to Organize and become a Federal Tax Exempt Organization, Grant Writing, Project development & management, and