I learned about WATCH from taking a domestic violence class at the University of Minnesota. I was eager to become a volunteer because I loved the work that WATCH was doing. I volunteer once a week and have loved it. Everyone is devoted to the mission and are willing to communicate and explore new possibilities. I have learned a lot about the court system and how our domestic violence victims are treated, despite our best intentions. I am proud to be a volunteer and I believe WATCH is a program that does great things for women.
After I retired I got involved in several volunteer opportunities working to stop domestic violence. When I heard about WATCH I was intrigued with their work and started volunteering, and I love it! I am impressed with how the organization compiles, analyzes and USES the data the volunteers provide to advocate for change within the judicial system. As a result, many things have been changed to better protect the victim and hold offenders accountable. It really feels like what we do as volunteers makes a difference, and I like being part of something that works for systemic change. I also like learning about the judicial system and expanding my vocabulary to include legal terminology! And, finally, I worked in the non-profit sector all of my professional life, and rarely have I come across an organization that makes better use of every dollar. WATCH uses its resources wisely and makes every volunteer feel welcome and valued. Susan Rivard
I volunteer with WATCH because I wanted to be more involved with the community. Currently I work with Hennepin County Human Services Public Health Department and service clients who actively receive public assistance. Usually, I'd service the clients, AFTER they have gone through their court dealings. Most utilize HSPHD to apply for assistance including but not limited to Rule 25, which you see a lot of with child protection cases. The combination of the two makes my job and volunteer experience so meaningful!
For 20 years, WATCH has been sending trained volunteers to monitor cases of violence against women and children in Hennepin County courtrooms. Based on the volunteers' feedback and studies conducted on these issues, WATCH has published reports, made recommendations for systemic change, and honored those who have made improvements in the justice system. As a volunteer and board member, i have learned much about the courts and domestic violence issues, and i am honored to play a part in WATCH's accomplishments.
I had just graduated from paralegal school when one of my friends referred me to WATCH. I thought it would be a great opportunity to gain experience in the legal field, but it became more than that. When I go to volunteer, I feel like I am making a difference by monitoring and taking notes of what I see. Court monitors are the eyes and the ears of the public. WATCH strives to make the justice system more fair and effective in handling cases of violence against women and children. Anyone interested in our justice system should definitely look into volunteering at WATCH.
I am very proud to be a volunteer with WATCH. I have always been passionate about ending violence against women and this organization was a great way to combine both my interests and my career. As a law student, I really enjoy the courtroom exposure. I am able to see what a "good" judge who is being respectful and explaining things clearly looks like. I am also able to witness courtroom decorum and interactions between lawyers. I believe in this organization and I have seen the effect it can have on the community. I will continue to volunteer for WATCH for as long as I am able. It is a wonderful community of like-minded individuals who want to make a change in the world for the better.
I was matched to WATCH MN through a board search firm. I had received at least 3 other non profit's profiles that matched my profile, but WATCH is the one that caught my eye on paper. It was the only non profit with the unique value proposition of monitoring the judicial system with a focus on domestic abuse. WATCH clearly had a systems approach to change that involved bringing everyone in the judicial system together to make data driven decisions. Data is the second thing that caught my eye. WATCH is not an organization responding to individual cases that have a sensationalist appeal. WATCH looks at the big picture by collecting and analyzing data from the front lines of the judicial system - in the courts. It is for these reasons that I joined the WATCH board of directors in 2009. I am now the board chair and am proud to be serving this organization. The only reason I do not give it five starts is because its direct impact is mainly in Hennepin county and needs to spread across the country. Also, for a 20 year old organization, its name is not well known enough, but we are working on that. Two of the impacts on Hennepin County that WATCH has had that I am most proud of occurred before I joined the board. One was the use of WATCH data and analysis to make strangulation a felony offense. In the past, strangulation was not considered a serious offense although the majority of domestic abuse cases that ended in death or serious injury started with strangulation. The second is WATCH's role in extended from 12 hours to 24 hours the amount of time officers have to arrest domestic abusers. Often times 12 hours was not enough time to locate the abusers and they would get off scott free without even having to explain their actions. I hope this narrative helps all of you out there understand more about what WATCH does and why you should support us.