Victoria HuckabeeInterning at PJALS has been an amazing experience for me and I have learned about so many different areas of community organizing and macro level social work. I am grateful for every experience I had at PJALS from participating in police accountability meetings and activities to planning the Mothers and Families for Smart Justice group, and even making hundreds of event reminder phone calls. Interning at PJALS has taught me community organizing, leadership skills, and formed my professional identity. I feel confident and satisfied in the work I have done and in the work I will continue to do with the skills I learned at PJALS.

Looking back on the year I remember how little I knew about community organizing at the first event I was a part of, which was the Smart Justice Community Symposium. I remember feeling a little useless and somewhat in the way because I had so many questions and wasn’t really sure what I was doing. As the year progressed and I felt more confident in my abilities I began to own my projects and take pride in my work. When I compare my symposium experience to our most recent event, which was the auction, I am really able to see how much I changed and grew over the course of my internship. The auction was a very different experience for me than the symposium was. At the auction, I felt confident in the work I was doing, took charge of my projects, and stepped up to help out wherever I was needed. I also noticed a difference due to the relationships I built with members and volunteers and it feels great to be a valuable member of the team.

Of all the different projects I was a part of at PJALS the one that I am most proud of and connected to is the Mothers and Families for Smart Justice support group. I am passionate about supporting others who are experiencing the incarceration of their family member or loved one, and I was excited to get to help plan and organize the group and develop our goals and mission. Now the group has begun to form, we are meeting monthly, and I am happy to start seeing all our hard work pay off and our plans turn to action. Unfortunately my internship is ending, and I am sad to move on, but I will always be a part of PJALS.