No, I’m not referring to a fantasy of wearing a cape and fighting for justice alongside superheroes like Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman, but I do have something in common with them. This summer I’ll be supporting victims of crime just like they do! Well, not exactly just like they do.
My name is Bradley Petrella, and for the next ten weeks, I’m working for the nonprofit Ohio Crime Victim Justice Center (formerly the Justice League of Ohio) through the Columbus Foundation Fellowship. Ohio Crime Victim Justice Center provides legal services to protect the rights of Ohio victims of state and federal crimes. My specific project is to review the online victims’ rights toolkit to make it more user friendly for clients, or anyone in Ohio who has had a crime committed against them and wants to understand their rights in the criminal justice process.
Other humans have always given me plenty of inspiration through their everyday jobs and actions. For example, I’ve met plenty of real-life heroes in the nonprofits I’ve volunteered, interned, and worked for over the past several years. In fact, when I became a teen-intern for SON Ministries Hilliard Free Lunch Summer Camp for Kids in my hometown in 2013, I realized my interest in a career in the nonprofit sector. My experience, including a second summer as a teen intern and two more as paid staff for the organization, largely spurred my choices of study in college. I wanted to learn about international circumstances that brought people to Ohio from all over the world, and I wanted to gain skills for developing collaborative solutions to the daily issues we face in our communities. After completing 4 years, 3 minors, 2 majors, and 1 graduate certificate, I became a graduate of the University of Dayton in May.
Born and raised in Franklin County, I cherished the opportunity to simultaneously get away from home for a bit and also continue learning about the state by attending university in Dayton, Ohio. By interning for Abolition Ohio and leading the New Abolitionist Movement student club, I became heavily involved in anti-human trafficking work, giving presentations at area schools and attending the yearly conference at the University of Toledo, as well as Human Trafficking Awareness Day at the Ohio Statehouse. Locally, I participated in the Dayton Civic Scholars program, helped plan and lead the REAL Dayton to get fellow students better acquainted and more involved with the city they would call home for four years, and interned for Catholic Social Services of the Miami Valley Refugee Resettlement Program. The internship reinforced the importance of global understanding for work in the U.S. Finally, I got to represent my university and state on a couple national stages. I served as a Dayton Ambassador on the National Planning Committee for the IMPACT Conference held at University of Dayton and co-presented about the university’s work to integrate human rights, sustainability, and fair trade at the Fair Trade Campaigns National Conference in D.C.
The shared theme in these involvements was a desire to work for the common good, and I have long wanted to help better Ohio, the state I call home. When a former colleague from SON Ministries encouraged me to apply for the Columbus Foundation Fellowship, I felt it was the perfect next step for me. Being chosen as the Fellow for Ohio Crime Victim Justice Center made the opportunity even better since I wanted exposure to the legal field.
Call me a Fellow
One week in, and the Fellowship is meeting my expectations and then some. To begin the week, I met the other Fellows, each paired with a different nonprofit as part of the Fellowship. I’m honored to be part of a group of such passionate, talented, and driven individuals!
Since Monday, I’ve been listening and learning as much as I can about the history and work of the Ohio Crime Victim Justice Center. As the Fellow, I join several staff and a number of of volunteers and interns. Despite being a small organization which covers cases of crime victims all across the state, the staff have been great, showing a commitment to make the experience as beneficial as possible for me. On Tuesday, I attended a training on crime victims’ rights, which provided a great introduction to the focus of my organization. The next day I was happy to stay connected to the anti-trafficking community by going to a CORRC meeting. Finally, I got a good start on revising language in the crime victims’ rights toolkit to make it more readable for those who visit the site. I truly hope my edits make it easier for victims of crime to get justice!