Helping Volunteers at Cure Violence Share Their Stories
By Julia Anaya, intern on Groupon’s Social Innovation team
Groupon’s Employee Volunteer Program has recently partnered with Cure Violence, formerly known as Ceasefire, to provide skills-based volunteering from the Groupon editorial department. The organization was highlighted in the recent documentary, The Interrupters. Check out the trailer above.
Cure Violence is an organization of advocates working to stop the cycle of violence. Gary Slutkin, an epidemiologist, developed the Cure Violence method by modeling it from strategies used for disease control. Called “violence interrupters,” Cure Violence advocates employ the organization’s strategy of identifying conflict and interrupting violence before it starts.
Groupon Editor Emily Wachowiak says, “I was absolutely blown away to hear the lengths to which [violence interrupters] go to help their clients—from setting up a recording studio to encourage positive hip-hop to visiting with a teen boy every single day for two months just to keep him out of trouble.”
One of the most important components of the Cure Violence movement is sharing the success stories of violence interrupters, many of whom have left behind violent pasts of gang involvement and drug dealing to take an active role in finding peaceful resolutions to conflicts in their communities. As part of Groupon’s new partnership with Cure Violence, volunteers from our editorial department transcribed stories from violence interrupters at Cure Violence–affiliated organizations in cities across the nation, including Brooklyn, New York; Baltimore, Maryland; and Oakland, California.
The violence interrupters participating in the Groupon project told their stories of combatting violence to Groupon staff members in phone interviews, and then our writers and editors transcribed them to share on the Cure Violence website. Last week at the first Cure Violence Story Slam Session, held for our employees at one of Groupon’s Chicago offices, Groupon volunteers shared some of the stories they had collected. I asked some of them to share their experiences as interviewers.
“What impressed me most about interviewing Akil was the level of creativity and engagement he showed in working with each client,” says editor Daphne Sidor. “Although he did have stories about breaking up fights, much of his work came at the problem of violence indirectly, by seeking out ways to re-channel clients’ energy into a job or artistic pursuit.”
Writer Jon Schaff’s interview with a violence interrupter was an eye-opening experience: “For [Tim], 149 days without a murder in his community was a triumph; it was something I could tell he was really proud of. The idea that five months of peace in your backyard calls for celebration was shocking to me. It’s so far removed from the way I experience the world.”
Since the inaugural Story Slam, many more editorial volunteers have signed up to lead interviews, and we are excited to host more story sessions in the future as this new partnership continues to grow.
Julia Anaya is an intern on Groupon’s Social Innovation team. She is a junior at Northwestern University, where she is majoring in communication studies and international studies. Her internship experience was featured in College Magazine.