Above: Robert poses with the high school youth group at Salem Presbyterian Church
Here's the daily Journey of Hope...From Violence to Healing installment from Robert Hoelscher, Journey participant and campaign coordinator for Murder Victims' Families for Reconciliation:
On Wednesday we packed up in Harrisonburg and set out for Roanoke. I caravaned in the abolitionmobile with JOH co-founder George White, family member Aba Gayle, activist Beth Wood-Bonowitz and her JOH mascot son Isaac (son of Abe
Bonowitz), family member Christina Lawson, and activist Steve "I Sell Music on E-Bay" Louis. We had lunch on the road at the Whistle Stop Cafe. Yes, I had fried green tomatoes. They was yummy.
After we got set up in Roanoke, local VDAP activist Gene Edmunds (thank you Gene!) escorted me to the Salem Presbyterian Church where I visited with a high school youth group. We talked for about an hour in a "living room" setting. I told the story of losing my father at age 7. And how my mother had called the offender's parents just two days after the murder to offer forgiveness. At the end, I asked if our discussion had helped. They all seemed to think it had. One student mentioned
that the most she had really thought about the death penalty was through the
humor of comedian Ron "Tater Salad" White who has a joke about Texas using the
"express lane" for its death penalty. I tried to encourage them always to look
deeply at issues where fellow human beings are involved. I believe they will.
We're having a "debriefing" of the days events in a few minutes. I'm off to check it out.