Our work as peacemakers is crucial to the SOS Illinois mission and our identity as an organization.
Each year, we gather the majority of our staff at one site to provide an opportunity to move our vision of a Village from notion into greater reality. At our last All-Staff Meeting on October 25, 2016, Foster Parents, caseworkers, therapists, facilities staff, and other administrative and supportive personnel explored the ways in which those of us at SOS Illinois can better articulate our role as peacemakers.
Such an idea is crucial to our organization’s identity for two significant reasons: the first is the lack of peace and social structure in many communities we serve; while the second is the reality that many children and families in our care have been victim to some form of violence. As such, our role as peacemakers works to strengthen these individual children and families, as well as the communities in which they live and grow.
Through discussions at this meeting, we touched upon four key elements:
1) The necessity of fostering a sense of individual and communal safety.
Under our unique definition, safety is understood as creating the absence of physical harm, as well as understanding that we all belong to something greater than ourselves.
2) Building solidarity.
This is an intentional practice of developing an atmosphere of understanding, belonging, and connectivity. For SOS Illinois, solidarity is best expressed in the notion of a unified Village.
3) The critical need for equity and justice in our workplaces and communities.
If peace is ever to become an authentic reality brought to life through our mission, we must create an environment of just and equitable decision-making and community development.
4) The importance of sustaining hope.
The ability to advance our vision and efforts in a way that continues to inspire ourselves and others—even in the face of challenge or despair—is rooted in hope. As peacemakers, this hopeful energy must underline all that we do as we serve our communities with integrity and optimism.
To conclude this important meeting, staff members at each of our sites developed and created a visual declaration of how they would work—both inside and outside the organization—to embody their role as peacemakers in our local communities and larger society.
Hear their voices and perspectives on our YouTube channel, and join us in reflecting on the importance of peace. It is vital during the holiday season, into 2017, and on every day of the year that we give thought to our individual and collective roles to promote peace and unity in each of our communities.