In March of 1996, Larry Hesed along with a board of eight people formed a 501c3 organization called the Victim Offender Reconciliation Program of Central Kansas. The organizations funding was initially started with a grant from the Showalter Foundation and the Dominican Sisters. Until 2010, the VORP program has been bringing victims and offenders together in a safe mediation setting to permit the offender to take responsibility for his or her actions, to make things as right as possible with the victim, and to be clear about future intentions. Cases were received from the Barton County Attorney’s Office and Great Bend Municipal Court. Volunteer mediators, Larry Hesed and Sister Terry Wasinger, met with victims and offenders, in 209 completed cases. Most cases were resolved between the two parties without the case going to court. This allowed the offender to make restitution to the victim and prevented them from having a criminal record.
The VORP program has been funded by the selling of Dillon’s certificates at three local businesses and the Mennonite Church in Pawnee Rock.
In February of 2010, Larry was diagnosed with leukemia and could not continue the work of the program. Since he and Sister Terry were the only two mediators and teen court had resumed again, the organization cease to function last year.
After Larry passed away in November it became obvious that decisions had to be made concerning the program.
Last week the current Board of Directors met and determined how to best disband the organization and what steps needed to be taken to do this. There are two other active VORP programs currently in the state, but the board felt that since the money was raised locally that it needed to stay local. The board voted unanimously to transfer the remaining funds to United Way of Central Kansas in the amount of $12,483.24
Current board members are: Sister Terry Wasinger, Naomi Bates, Scott Eckberg, Jim Pitts, Mike Keeley, Phyllis Vogt, Lori Waters.