Peace of the City began in 1992 with one after-school program called “Homework Club”. Over the years, four priorities – Literacy, the Arts, Advocacy and Transformation have gradually emerged and now drive POTC’s vision and ministry forward.
Homework Club begins in an unused Episcopal fellowship hall at Vermont and Prospect.
In response to the great needs of older kids in the neighborhood, we begin Teen Club and Teen Employment programs. Word spreads and a waiting list is begun for some programs.
Our second home at a former TV station located at 184 Barton St. The old Episcopal property is sold. After utilizing a few temporary sites around the West Side (including our second floor apartment!) in time we land at a former TV station located at 184 Barton St. Thus begins ten amazing years of adding staff and building programs, community and memories. During the Barton Street era we formally become “Peace of the City” and obtain the 501(c)3 designation. Near the end of our time at Barton Street, POTC increasingly comes to terms with the fact that offering quality programs is not enough; the root causes of generational poverty must be addressed. We affiliate with the Christian Community Development Association and add programs and staff aimed at not only loving and serving young people but empowering them with the skills and mindset needed to break the cycle of poverty. This recalibration of our vision changes everything.
Expansion of the Jericho Road Family Health Practice (also located at 184 Barton) causes us to move on to an underused church building located at Bird and Hoyt. Here the staggering reality of illiteracy among many of our children further grips POTC and the “Literacy For All” intervention program is begun. Utilizing three unheated, makeshift rooms, our professionally-trained literacy tutors go to work, creating new hope for kids and teens with few options for serious reading assistance. In time, the results will be amazing.
As we prepare to get underway with summer programs, we are informed that the church at Bird and Hoyt has been sold. Peace of the City is given 45 days to clear out with no obvious place to go. Our programs and staff have multiplied over the years, so this sudden news temporarily stops us in our tracks. Enter a new church plant called “Renovation” and its pastor, Brek Cockrell. This young church had recently purchased a former Catholic Church campus on Hertel Avenue and offered us seven classrooms — rent free(!) — on the third floor of the former school on the property. That’s cooperation in the Body of Christ. Although this new location is away from the West Side neighborhood we have invested for the prior sixteen years, our staff and board soon sensed that this is where God wants us to relocate. Our “give back” to Renovation Church is to help them establish an authentic presence in their new neighborhood. We offer our hard-earned expertise and set up programs that Renovation can continue after we identify a new home back in our West Side neighborhood. This vision has happened and is no small thing.
We relocate back to the West Side in the summer of 2010, finding a second floor home in four classrooms of the Loretto Ministries Center. This old Catholic school building is right in the middle of the most dangerous neighborhood yet for POTC to call home. Two recent daytime shootings near our soon-to-be home, gang and drug activity, prostitution and generational poverty all around us. Recently, my middle daughter asked “Why on earth would you move Peace of the City there, Mom? That is a terrible neighborhood!” I paused, looked straight in her eye and said to her (and now to you] “Because there are children there.” She gave me a resistant yet knowing look and said no more. We covet your prayers and need fresh generosity for the additional cost of $22,000 from those who support our vision.