PEACE: People Engaged in Active Community Efforts Palm Beach County, Florida

PEACE is an organization made up of 19 congregations from around Palm Beach County that have come together to address the injustices in our community. We are diverse in race, religion, geography and socio-economic status; however, our strength comes from our unity and commitment to stand together to make real changes happen in our community.

PEACE is not based on one religious belief or affiliated with one denomination or ministry. Our work is primarily focused on local (county & city) work and while we deal with the criminal justice system occasionally our work is not solely focused on the Justice system of courts and jails.

Our vision comes from Micah 6:8 – “What does the Lord require but to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.”

We want justice to be just as central to our congregations as mercy and faithfulness. We define doing “justice” as changing the systems that create the need for charity or mercy works. For example, PEACE focused on bringing jobs to the Glades so that there would be fewer children going to be bed hungry in our community. By changing the economic system, we can stop people from ever needing to access charity. We respect the vital role charity and mercy works play in our community but our goal is to be able to create such a just society that there is no need for food pantries, homeless shelters, etc.

What has PEACE Won?

In the years since St. Andrews has been part of PEACE, we have won the following:

  • A 60% reduction in out-of-school suspensions
  • A Wage Theft program that has recovered over $1.2 million for more than 1200 victims
  • A Glades Hiring Incentive Program that has provided 100s of local jobs for Glades’ residents
  • $2.4 million to go towards building affordable housing
  • Preventing the arrest of over 23,000 children state-wide through mandatory Juvenile Civil Citations
  • Getting the Sheriff to accept Consular IDs and saving over 500 people from an unnecessary arrest

What is PEACE currently working on?

Homelessness

We have a homelessness crisis and the fastest increasing populations are children and the elderly, this includes:

  • A 91 year-old woman just showed up at the Lewis Center, she had outlived her savings and had been on the streets for 3 weeks sleeping between a dumpster and a building, hiding for protection
  • A 63 year-old woman sleeping under the tree across from “Farmer Girl” restaurant. She lost everything after her husband’s slow death from cancer ate though their savings. She does clean-up work at construction sites to get enough money to eat
  • A mother of 4 was just turned away from the Lewis Center because her and her children have a car to sleep in so they aren’t homeless enough to qualify for the limited services the county does offer

Community IDs

Everybody deserves the dignity an ID provides, without an ID you cannot access basic services and can face an arrest, called a custodial arrest, just to prove who you are. Those in need of an ID include:

  • An undocumented man with diabetes. He can pay for Insulin but without an ID no hospital will see him and give him the prescription and without an ID he can’t pick up medication anyways
  • An undocumented mom who didn’t have an ID so was too scared to register her children for school
  • A homeless man who didn’t have an ID so couldn’t access his owed benefits

Police-Community Relations

Far too many of our African-American and Hispanic neighbors live in fear of the police due to their experiences and stories with Police unfairly stopping them for minor or no reasons. This includes:

  • A Puerto-Rican who was driving to work on Indiantown Rd when 2 police cars stopped her. After running her license, she asked why they stopped her. One officer replied, with cars going by in the background, we are stopping all cars on Indiantown today. The officers then let her go without a warning or ticket.
  • An African-American pastor was leaving church late following an event at the church. An officer pulled him over as he was leaving the parking lot and asked him what he was doing in this area so late at night. The officer threatened to search his car. He explained that he was the pastor and locking up the church. The officer then let him go.

Upcoming Events

Rally – March 9th at 7:00 at St. Juliana Catholic Church

Action – March 30th at 7:00 at the South Florida Fairgrounds

We invite all of you to join us and stand with hundreds of your brothers and sisters to address these serious problems in our community.[/column]

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