After a recent holiday gathering, a leader from one of our agencies said during a conversation, “I wonder if I am really doing a good job?” The leader has been observing the trauma of violence across the neighborhood, and when home in the evening time he reflects with his wife on the work ahead on how best we might care for the children and families in the Back of the Yards neighborhood.

His reflection is not an easy one knowing the challenges youth and children face in the neighborhood. The recent elections have cast doubts about adults who have the responsibility to protect the children. The experience of street violence has made the young people feel unsafe. And domestic violence, often due to economic strife, forces some youth onto the street until late hours putting them at-risk. Knowing any single one of the children affected creates a challenge to accompany them and figure out how to make a difference. Sometimes, frustrated by the lack of resources the question arises, “I wonder if I am really doing a good job?”

Taking an opportunity to respond, a friend said to the leader, “First, just to ask the question, ‘Am I doing a good job?’ is an indication you are moving in a positive direction. We keep ourselves in a creative spirit when we can reflect on the work at hand. Having to ask the question indicates that in fact you do care, and desire to do your best. Second, talking to a spouse, someone who can listen, means you are in a dialogue which can bring a better understanding. Just to be able to gather as adults and reflect is at least half the journey towards a witness of being compassionate and responsive. To accompany one another is also to persevere with patience in the journey towards peace and education.

In the New Year, the Coalition will continue the dialogue and the commitment to accompany one another, meeting monthly and working with a strategic plan of peace to bring a light of hope to our families. Also in the New Year, we will once again host the fundraiser for the 2017 Scholarships for our young people pursuing a higher education on Saturday, May 20, 2017, 10 AM – “Taste of the Back of the Yards”. Plan to join us!

All of us in the Peace and Education Coalition remain grateful to our sponsors and for those who are committed to a vision of peace and education in Back of the Yards! Thank you and may your New Year be filled with hope, …and peace!

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