Jill Cannefax, a volunteer facilitator with the Oregon Prison Project (OPP) since 2009, was awarded the Silent Servant Award by the Peter R. Marsh Foundation. She was presented the award by OPP’s Program Director, Fred Sly.
OPP offers training in Nonviolent Communication (NVC) within the Oregon State Penitentiary. Jill has co-facilitated two to three classes weekly since 2009. Mr. Sly reports, “NVC trainings serve to increase empathy and accountability in those who participate, and the Oregon Parole Board has acknowledged that those graduating from our classes have developed qualities that inspire the board to consider returning them to society. Jill has participated in training over 600 people since she began as a volunteer and Jill rarely misses classes even when the weather doesn't cooperate. Jill brings a natural empathetic quality containing compassion and understanding to each person attending our classes and our participants have repeatedly told me that Jill's example has inspired them to make amends for doing what brought them to prison.”
Mr. Sly adds, “Jill's great gift and skill is to remain present to those suffering the deepest pain, guilt, shame, and heartbreak. Hearing their stories and providing human connection even to those who society judges as irredeemable, thereby creating the basis for healing and redemption. I am deeply grateful that she continues to bring her skill and love to those taking our classes in OSP.”
Although OPP provides training at multiple level security prison, Jill has been focusing at OSP, which is a maximum security facility and has the largest number of weekly classes. She also spends time facilitating Salem area community classes for those returning to the community from prison as well.
Mr. Sly was asked why he chose to nominate Jill for the PRMF Silent Servant Award, over another volunteer. He replied, “Jill has remained working in the prison and the sense of continuity and trust our participants develop resulting from her consistency is delightful and so important to their being able to trust that they have a place at the human table; this trust is the fundamental building block of accountability. I chose her because whenever I look around to see who is showing up Jill is always in the room and I would like her to know how much I have, and we all have, valued her presence and dedication over the years of her service.”
To learn move about the Oregon Prison Project, visit: https://oregonprisonproject.org/
To read an article about Jill in the Statesman Journal, click HERE.