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Genesee Justice, stripped of its director and a good deal of county funding in this year’s budget, has received its first donation to help keep the organization on its feet.

The Genesee County Bar Association unofficially donated $1,000 to the Genesee Justice Foundation. That’s a fledgling non-profit created by community members to help fund Genesee Justice.

While the non-profit is not federally recognized yet, leader Jane Schmieder says the fundraising just had to start anyway.

"Funding is just getting very tough - hence we started this foundation," she says. "Looking for alternative means of support for this work."

The American Baptist Church of the Genesee Region is accepting donations for Genesee Justice for the time being.

The restorative justice program faces a $100,000 operating deficit in the budget. Genesee Justice Assisant Director Tiffany Szymanek says there’s no set fundraising goal – just hopefully a lot.

"At this point I don't have a definitive answer on where the County Legislature stands, as far as what our budget is going to look like from the county end," says Szymanek. "So I have no assurances - other than knowing that the plan we came up with last year is supposed to be a temporary plan.

"We need to come up with that money, regardless."

The plan Szymanek refers to was an agreed salary reduction by Genesee Justice staff, and the resignation of Director Ed Minardo, which freed up enough funds to save the program from dissolution.

Genesee Justice is a victim’s assistance and criminal rehabilitation program, often credited as the first of its kind in the nation.

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