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Interfaith Coalition Establishes Community Peace Center

On June 3, the Board of Directors of Interfaith Coalition of St. Croix (IFC), in a unanimous vote, agreed to a proposal to expand their community work by adding a Community Peace Center.
The Community Peace Center concept has been brewing for several years. It is now in operation with activities in many community locations throughout the islands. The Interfaith Coalition’s work on St. Croix, St. Thomas and St. John, and in other islands as well, has led the board to recognize that many other programs and collaborations are needed.
Residents of the U.S. Virgin Islands have experienced many extreme challenges — personal, social, cultural, health, educational and economic — leading to an alarming level of interpersonal violence. From 2000-2012, the Virgin Islands has lost 562 community members to homicide. The Community Peace Center comes from the recognition that people must do something differently, now.
Three program areas are underway: 1. Arts for Peace, 2. Skill Building for Peace and 3. Advocacy for Peace. Since 2004, AVP (Alternatives to Violence Project) has been a program of IFC. With the help of volunteers and partners, we have also started Intergeneration Round Tables, “Help Increase the Peace” workshops for youth, art projects, and discussion groups called Café Philo. Plans are underway to offer training in improv theatre for youth and exploring positive methods of solving conflicts through dramas.
Also, Interfaith Coalition has led several sessions with individuals representing government and nonprofit agencies in introducing the Public Health Model of Violence Prevention (see www.cdc.gov ). Other collaborations are planned for the fall. Interfaith Coalition continues to move forward in recognition that violence is an epidemic in the islands and can be significantly reduced or even eradicated using the public health model already in place in many cities and towns around the U.S.A., and in other countries as well.
IFC was formed in late 1989, following Hurricane Hugo, when stateside faith and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) wanted to help residents in the rehab efforts of getting people back into their homes. IFC was responsible for managing the funding and volunteers to replace roofs, do repairs, and other rebuilding and recovery work. It has continued to be involved in other efforts as a part of the Island community, including Volunteer Caregivers and an HIV/AIDS program.
The commitment to the new Community Peace Center is supporting the mission of Interfaith Coalition, which is “A community of people representing widely differing faith traditions called to serve the needs of the St. Croix community through education, service and advocacy, working in partnership with others who share our vision.”
Anyone interested in peace work, volunteering, serving on working committees, or wanting information about the Community Peace Center can call Interim Program Manager Carolyn Keys at 719-7805.

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