Community organizing is not just a job for Mary Louise Resch. As the Executive Director of the South Carolina Center for Family Policy, she currently leads the more than 600 volunteer members of South Carolina’s Governor’s Community Youth Councils in creating and sustaining some of the most effective juvenile justice diversion programs in the state.
Under her leadership, these Councils have diverted 1,695 youth from the SC Department of Juvenile Justice to more than 20 locally created community programs in 1999-2000. These diversions have resulted in savings of more than $5 million to South Carolina taxpayers in juvenile justice dollars. These programs have also been conducive to reducing the number of status offenders (truants, runaways and incorrigibles) committed to the secure facilities of the SC Department of Justice by approximately 17% during that same period.
As a volunteer in her community, Resch serves as an example of what volunteer leadership and advocacy should be. Since relocating here in 1988, Resch has served and often times led such diverse community groups as the local sexual trauma services board of directors, local child advocacy organizations such as the Alliance for South Carolina’s Children, veterans groups such as the American Legion, and others as listed on the attached supporting material. Not only she has been an active leader in these organizations individually, but has often brought these diverse groups to the table for the first time to collaborate and share information, ideas and resources.
As a result of this leadership, Resch has ensured the active integration of results-based planning and evaluation into many of these organizations. She has helped to demonstrate the need for strategic plans that develop programs that generate real positive changes in the community. Many of these organizations, including Communities in Schools of the Midlands, now effectively use her model planning documents to guide decision-making and program changes. These results are now being used to apply for and receive funding from a variety of public and private resources to ensure long-term stability of these initiatives.
Resch has been recognized for her work on behalf of her community. Governor Jim Hodges recently appointed Resch to serve, along with other state leaders on the Governor’s Juvenile Justice Advisory Council, the volunteer advisory group that makes recommendations regarding juvenile justice priorities and the expenditure of South Carolina’s Federal Juvenile Justice dollars. She was the inaugural recipient of the N. Peter Johnson Award as South Carolina’s prevention professional of the year in 1999, and in 2000 was the co-recipient of the President’s Award from the South Carolina Association of Crime Prevention Officers for her volunteer work for actively linking the law enforcement and human services communities in our state.