By Amy A.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.”
Boy, I tell ya. The PEACE Program is the place to be. I’ve been counting (or, rather, just running the program every day), and I think there have been around a million new developments around here of late. For one thing, PEACE is a real, live, actual acronym now. That’s right. P-E-A-C-E stands for… drumroll please…
Proactive Educational Assistance in a Caring Environment
I’m only announcing this now because I’m even more excited about what it stands for and how well it works than I am embarrassed that it didn’t stand for anything before the beginning of this year. We had just been capitalizing all the letters in faith.
“Proactive?” you may be thinking. “Now, that’s a big word for a few college students who just love Kirksville kids and keep claiming not to know what they’re doing. Don’t you just go down to #20 for a couple of hours a day and wing it?”
Why, no. No, we don’t. I think that would be reactive educational assistance, and we can’t call ourselves the “REACE Program.” So, we should probably stop saying that we don’t know what we’re doing. We do know some of what we’re doing.
We’re making a safe place. When you walk into #20 Devlin, you are immediately surrounded by people who care and who are saying so in all the ways they know how. Colorfully painted walls display proudly framed homeworks that you did your very best on. Volunteers give out free high-fives and hugs. They check your folder for homework, even when you say you don’t have any. If you’re having trouble focusing on your math, those helpers will do everything from racing to see who, between the two of you, can get your facts finished first, to lending a listening ear and advice on how to deal with all the worries and trials 3rd grade could possibly hold. If you’re scared or angry, you don’t have to fight; you can talk to us. You’re safe here, and you are important.
We’re making a difference. This is a note one of our kids left us. Turns out, doing your homework every day can have a way of upping your grades. Likewise, reading every day in a room that was designed for just such a purpose can have a way of upping your reading level. Knowing this little secret–and finding sneaky ways to keep academics appealing–apparently makes Amy B. and me (a.k.a. “other Amy”) great teachers. Well, that warmed my winter right up.
We’re making young people think. About the cause of your difficulty focusing on Social Studies and what you can do to fix it. About the effects of doing your homework on your grades. About why Pluto is colder than Venus. About where you live and how that shapes you. About where other people live and how that shapes them. About what we have in common. About what you might want to talk to God about before we eat snack. About why we drink water at PEACE and not soda, and why we eat multigrain crackers and not potato chips. About how to introduce yourself to new grownups. About what kind of grownup you want to be.
We’re making bridges. Two-thirds of our volunteer force is made up of students who attend the university located just a few blocks from Devlin Place. Even though PEACE and Truman State campus are in such close proximity to one another, most of our new recruits haven’t even heard of the park that is in the middle of the Devlin neighborhood when they meet us. So we’re bridging a gap between little kids who need inspiration and good role models and young adults who just as desperately need to get off campus and serve someone.
As the program has a unique rapport in the area, PEACE can also serve as a liaison for service organizations who have skills or manpower that our volunteer force does not. A huge chunk of our growth over this last year has been made possible by our local network of friends and allies, whether it’s helping maintain the facility, gathering resources to jump start our library, or giving presentations on health and nutrition. Let me tell you people, a community that works together is a truly beautiful thing. More bridges means everyone is richer.
We’re making time for sowing. We don’t just work to make PEACE during the two hours that the program is open, 4 days a week. That’s not how a million new developments happen; that’s not being proactive. We are planning lessons, training volunteers, connecting with parents, and working to raise funds all week long. Yet most, most, most crucially, we pray together regularly as a team. During these precious times, we encourage each other to continue going after the heart of God for our city, and the Lord Himself encourages us to keep going after His treasures here. And it’s during these precious times that I start to feel again that we really don’t know what we’re doing, or we only know the tiniest bit. The rest is in the Lord’s hands, to sow and to make grow and to multiply as He will. That will be a glorious day, Someday, when we’ll finally know what we were doing.
“Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.”