Outreach and Justice Ministries: The Peace House
Engaging in Service: A vital part of Sunnyside’s vision is to maintain a grounding in the community as we strive to be the church in the world. We are always looking for ways to help persons grow in discipleship, engage in Christian Practice and form enriching Christian Community that bridges the Church and the world.
Making the Neighborhood Family: Kalamazoo's Peace HouseNational NPR reporter Kyle Norris covered a story on the Kalamazoo Peace House,
which is located on Phelps street on the Eastside Neighborhood. Jerry Berrigan, Molly Mechtenberg, and Mike and Jen DeWaele combined their efforts to merge two neighborhood houses into the "Peace House." The DeWaeles are Quakers, whereas Molly Mechtenberg and Jerry Berrigan are Catholic Workers.
From the Article:
(Listen to the report)The couples have devoted their lives to building community and helping poor and underserved people and they picked the Eastside because it was one of the most underserved areas of Kalamazoo. All four adults run The Peace House, which is actually two houses. The couples raised $60,000 from family and friends and got a $20,000 grant from the congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Kalamazoo. They used the money to help buy the two old houses.
They're focusing their efforts on helping local kids. Each day after school, the Peace House provides tutoring for kids. Peace House regularly throws barbeques and parties and bike repair workshops. This summer, Peace House hauled-out decades of trash from the backyard, then built a huge jungle gym and a garden.
Both Quakerism and the Catholic Worker movement encourage simple living. The two families live without cable and cell phones, and for Jerry Berrigan, without health insurance. They grow a lot of their food, and cook and eat their meals together at the table. The Catholic Worker movement started in the Great Depression. There are about two-hundred houses world-wide. Michigan has Catholic Worker houses in Detroit, Saginaw and this one in Kalamazoo. One of the goals of the movement is to help the poorest of the poor by living with them and serving them. Berrigan says he, and the Catholic Worker movement, find inspiration in faith.
"If we take seriously the notion that God is our parent, then we have to take seriously, maybe even literally the notion that we are kin to each other. And that that should actually mean something, that we should try to treat each other that way." Berrigan says living this way is a small, modest, meaningful alternative to the huge issues of poverty and war and starvation. Tonya Pratt has lived in the neighborhood for thirteen years and her kids love hanging out at Peace House. She says Peace House has made a big difference in the neighborhood. "They try to get the neighborhood as a whole. They want the neighborhood to just be one person, just not everybody as just neighbors, they just want to be a big family I don't know of they've got a big family or not but I take it as they my family." Pratt says if you go over just a few blocks, there are fights and drugs and problems. But she says this block is quiet and calm, because of Peace House. She also says people at the Peace House helped her talk through a problem she was having with another neighbor, and they helped her find a peaceful solution.
The four adults who own Peace House say they're not really the owners. They say they're caregivers. Right now they're trying to figure out the legal work involved in turning PH over to the neighborhood.
For more information, to volunteer or to receive newsletters, call (269) 492-1260 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their new website at www.peacehousekzoo.org/