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Pivotal Peacemaker: Jamilah Collins

unnamed “Jamilah” is derived from a Swahili word meaning “beautiful.” Beautiful describes Jamilah’s demeanor and her heart for her students, which she calls “scholars.”

Jamilah, a teacher at The Freedom School, finds joy and beauty in connecting with the 12 middle school scholars in her class and the blessing of being a role model to even younger students.

She described an interaction in which a 10-year-old was crying and clinging to a book. Jamilah, who also sought solace in books when she was younger, sat down with her, asked her what was going on. She reminded the sad child that she was special, loved and beautiful. The little girl was inseparable from Jamilah from that moment on.

Jamilah explains her philosophy – that when a child is troubled or acting out, she seeks to discern the root cause of the behavior. She
believes that this method fosters a relationship and grows trust between the teacher and the scholar.

Jamilah sees beauty in the challenges and gifts of her childhood – a father who died suddenly when she was young, a mother who worked three jobs to take care of her family, the responsibility of helping with her younger brother – all of which helped shape her heart for God and for others, especially her scholars in Freedom School.

unnamed (1)During the school year, Jamilah is a teacher in Halifax County, inspiring a love and mastery of Social Studies in the 9th through 12th grades.

Spreading beauty wherever she is, Jamilah is an inspiration at the Freedom School at Peacemakers of Rocky Mount. Go to Peacemakers to meet Jamilah and see how lives are changing in South Rocky Mount.

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Southern Bank Invests in Community Development in South Rocky Mount

SBK (2)

Southern Bank recently presented a $2,500 gift to Peacemakers of South Rocky Mount in support of Peacemakers’ After School Program. During the school year, Peacemakers’ After School Program provides a safe, affirming environment where elementary and middle school students can receive tutoring at no charge. Volunteers work with young students Monday through Thursday afternoons, from 3:30pm until 5:30pm, assisting with homework assignments and working on specific skill areas that need improvement. In the photo, Southern Bank Vice President and Community Banker, Kim Sutton and Peacemakers Executive Director, Jesse Lewis, stand with children attending Freedom School, an eight-week summer enrichment program that began June 16. Peacemakers is a Christian community development 501c3 organization serving the under-resourced area of South Rocky Mount by empowering citizens with the knowledge and skills necessary to lead successful and sustainable lives. For more information, call 252-212-5044 or visit RockyMountPeacemakers.org.

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UNC Football, NFL Star Jason Brown Comes to Rocky Mount

Jason Brown

Anyone who has heard the name Jason Brown knows the talent, prestige and fame of the former University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill football player and NFL superstar. On Thursday, September 17 from 6-8PM, Brown will be the keynote speaker at the Peacemakers of Rocky Mount Celebration and Book Rally at Word Tabernacle Church’s Impact Center located at 821 Word Plaza in Rocky Mount, NC in the former Home Depot location. Tickets are $12 each and are free for children 12 and under. To purchase tickets, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/peacemakers-celebration-book-rally-tickets-17904316292 or Peacemakers at 1725 Davis Street in Rocky Mount, NC. For more information, visit facebook.com/peacemakersrm or call 252-813-9813.

A native of Henderson, NC, Brown attended UNC-CH on an athletic scholarship, graduated in 2005 and was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens. As a free agent in 2009, he signed a five-year contract with the St. Louis Rams, played three, and was released in March 2012. With several lucrative offers on the table from the Baltimore Ravens, Carolina Panthers, and the San Francisco 49ers, Jason Brown walked away from it all and instead took a leap of faith.

“Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops” (Proverbs 3:9) is a biblical mandate and Jason Brown takes it seriously. “God revealed to me that he had something greater in store for me and that my family should move back to my home state of North Carolina and start a farm,” he said. “This really caught us by surprise because we knew nothing about farming.  Yet, out of obedience, we started looking for available farmland.”

Brown left the fame and fortune and returned to North Carolina, bought a 1,000-acre farm in Louisburg and started First Fruits Farm where he puts his faith into action. After a year of preparing the land, in 2014 the farm hosted its first annual youth fishing derby, hosted graduates from North Carolina State University, and collaborated with many faith and service organizations. The farm yielded about 10,000 pounds of cucumbers and 120,000 pounds of sweet potatoes last year, which were given to food pantries and churches throughout the Triangle area. More than 600 volunteers lent helping hands in gleaning and harvest events.

Individuals who bring 10 new or gently used children’s books to the September 17th event will receive a free tee-shirt while supplies last. Age-appropriate books will be given to children in the South Rocky Mount neighborhood. Peacemakers is a Christian community development 501c3 organization serving the under-resourced area of South Rocky Mount, by empowering citizens with the knowledge and skills necessary to lead successful and sustainable lives. Peacemakers strives to tangibly demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ in such a way that it results ultimately in the complete transformation of the community and its people.  The organization believes wholeheartedly in the importance of collaboration, working with other organizations to further the impact of its services. Gifts of support are accepted throughout the year online, by mail to: 1725 Davis Street, Rocky Mount, NC 27803 and in person.

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110 Children to Benefit from Peacemakers Freedom School

DSC_0225Peacemakers Family Center located in South Rocky Mount will again host an enrichment program called Freedom School for 110 kids each weekday this summer from June 16 through August 6. “The program has gained so much popularity over the past few years due to the progress young scholars have made in reading over the summer, while having fun and learning life lessons and values that we had to turn away more than 115 applicants this year,” Peacemakers Executive Director Jesse Lewis said.

Using curriculum designed by the Children’s Defense Fund, Freedom School helps rising first through ninth graders fall in love with reading, increases their self-esteem, and generates more positive attitudes toward learning. Local children are taught using a model curriculum that supports children and families around five essential components: high quality academic enrichment; parent and family involvement; civic engagement and social action; intergenerational leadership development; and nutrition, health and mental healthThe program is sponsored by a number of private foundations, government agencies, and individuals.

Participants are pre and post-tested to document their progress over the eight weeks. Data from last year show an average reading score increase of one grade level. “Many children who participated last year, demonstrated a desire to spend time reading, when they had minimal or no desire to read at the beginning of the program,” Lewis said. Additionally, improvements are made in level of self-confidence including better self-perceptions of identity, ability to succeed academically, desire for future positive growth and understanding of career options available to them.

At Freedom School, children are engaged in activities that nurture their minds, bodies, and spirits. In the classrooms, they read books that celebrate a wide variety of cultures and experiences focusing on the theme I Can Make a Difference. The program also offers parents and family members the support and skills they need to help their children succeed. Staffed by college-age young adults committed to making life better for children, trained staff and volunteers help make Freedom School possible. Additionally, two nutritious meals meeting USDA nutritional standards, and a snack, are offered each day the program is in operation.

Peacemakers is a Christian community development 501c3 organization serving the under-resourced area of South Rocky Mount, by empowering citizens with the knowledge and skills necessary to lead successful and sustainable lives. Peacemakers strives to tangibly demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ in such a way that it results ultimately in the complete transformation of the community and its people.  The organization believes wholeheartedly in the importance of collaboration, working with other organizations to further the impact of its services. For more information email info@rockymountpeacemakers.org, call 252-212-5044 or visit www.rockymountpeacemakers.org. Gifts of support are accepted throughout the year online, by mail to: 1725 Davis Street, Rocky Mount, NC 27803 and in person.

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Students Collect Food for Peacemakers Freedom School

20150507_162701Nash Community College student clubs recently led a food drive competition to collect snack foods for Peacemakers’ Freedom School. The Math and Science Club won the competition collecting the most food.

Peacemakers is a community development organization serving the under-resourced area of South Rocky Mount to empower members of the community with the knowledge and skills necessary to lead successful and sustainable lives.

Freedom School is an eight-week, full-time summer enrichment program that helps children with reading, strives to increase their self-esteem, and has been shown to generate positive attitudes toward learning. Children are taught using a model curriculum that supports children and families around five essential components: high quality academic enrichment; parent and family involvement; civic engagement and social action; intergenerational leadership development; and nutrition, health and mental health.

Approximately 110 school-age children will benefit from Freedom School in  South Rocky Mount this summer. Food collected by Nash Community College students will be utilized for snacks twice each day for Freedom School participants. Pictured from left, Nash Community College Senior Director of Marketing and Communication and Peacemakers Board Member, Kelley Deal, and Peacemakers Executive Director Jesse Lewis.

 

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Intentional Relationships

o-RACISM-HANDS-facebookEvery day there is a new racially-charged incident making news. And for every incident, there are very predictable outcries of injustice, and equally predictable counter outcries in denunciation of what is seen as liberal propaganda. And the only thing that seems to be changing is the level of vitriol.

But racism is sin. Injustice is sin. And as Christians, we have to lead the way in dealing with it head-on. To do that, we have to be willing to hear a different perspective.

Consider the possibility that a lot of what we would typically label racism, on all sides, may come from a lack of understanding. We don’t comprehend or understand another person’s perspective, so we tend to misinterpret it. I firmly believe that most of our local racial tension would dissipate if we made an intentional effort to form real relationships across racial lines. I know that my own perspective on a lot of things related to race and poverty has changed dramatically over the last seven years, and it is because of the ongoing relationships that I have with people that have walked in a different place than I have.

I will readily admit that it is much easier to stand at a distance and make sweeping judgments about people than it is to invest the time in building deep relationships. But if we are going to accurately represent Christ, we don’t have an option.
The racial divide that we have in our community is a huge problem that holds us back in so many ways. But it is also a huge opportunity for the church to demonstrate that life in Christ can look so much different and be so much richer.

If we are going to do so, it has to mean more than having a joint worship service – although those are good. It has to mean that our relationships, our deepest friendships, have to look different and be different – we have to be willing to take the risk of crossing racial and economic lines. The kinds of things we work for and advocate for have to be different. The way we talk about people of other ethnicities has to be different. The jokes that we laugh at or tolerate have to be different.
That’s what being salt and light looks like. That’s what being the body of Christ looks like.

Change can come to this city. But I don’t believe it is going to come with some big racial reconciliation event that is on the front page of the paper. It’s going to come by sitting down over a cup of coffee and really listening to a perspective that is different than mine, and grilling out in the backyard with someone my neighbors might not like, and being intentional about the way we live our lives, one relationship at a time.

Jesse Lewis
Executive Director

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Peacemakers to Hold Black History Month Celebration

On Saturday, February 7 from 6:00pm-8:00pm, Peacemakers will host HEROES: A Celebration of African-American Heroes. The event will feature an African-American History Museum, a scavenger hunt game for kids, great food, music, and guest speaker David Joyner, Gateway Centre Complex Marketing Director/Event Operations Manager, will share remarks. The community is invited to attend the free event being held at Peacemakers located at 1725 Davis Street in Rocky Mount.

At HEROES, Rocky Mount area residents will celebrate February as Black History Month, highlighting remarkable African-American leaders throughout history, and focusing on the positive impact of past and present heroes and visionaries. Activities are planned for people of all ages to celebrate their dreams, successes, identity and self-awareness.

“Anytime we can move a person in the direction of becoming who God intends for them to be, we should. And having a right view of self is a big part of that,” Peacemakers Executive Director Jesse Lewis said. “Peacemakers looks forward to hosting this community celebration that will hopefully plant seeds of inspiration in the hearts of all who attend.”

Peacemakers as an organization strives to tangibly demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ in such a way that it results ultimately in the complete transformation of the community and its people. Peacemakers is a Christian organization based in south Rocky Mount and does not deny services on the basis of religion or any other demographic criteria.  For more information emailinfo@rockymountpeacemakers.org, call 252-212-5044 or visit www.rockymountpeacemakers.org.

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