An article published in the September 2012 King Farm Chronicle (Rockville, MD).
Make Peace the News –
King Farm Chronicle, September 2012
Why Mattie’s Foundation Matters
Reflect, Respond, and Reach Out with Peace
Jeni Stepanek, Ph.D.
Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation
“No one person can end war; however,
every person can begin peace.”
– Mattie J.T. Stepanek
“Peace matters!” – That’s a statement we all can pretty much agree on. Simply liking peace does not change our world though. Agreeing that peace matters for our world does not end war, nor does it promote an environment of kindness (or anti-bullying) in our schools and communities. Change comes through action, and action necessitates planning and commitment, and involvement and education.
Here in King Farm, people are generally familiar with late teen poet and peace activist, Mattie J.T. Stepanek. He was our neighbor, and our friend, and for many of us – an inspiration. After his death in 2004, the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation was created as a volunteer-based, not-for-profit organization with the mission of furthering his message of hope and peace.
But what is that message? How could Mattie state that “hope is real” when he knew his life would be so short? How did he explain his vision – his blueprint really – for a world in which “peace is possible” despite the reality that conflict will always exist? How do we begin to teach our children that peace not only matters, but that it begins with personal choices in thought, in word, and in action?
Reflecting on these questions, responding to Mattie’s message, and reaching out with peace is what Mattie’s Foundation is all about. We offer opportunities to explore and understand Mattie’s message through a variety of programs and materials. We promote action in sharing this message through motivational projects and activities. And most of all, we encourage people of all ages, abilities, races, and religions to work with us in realizing this mission of peace, starting right here in Mattie’s home community.
Beginning a new academic year is much like beginning a new calendar year. Just flipping the calendar to September symbolizes opportunities to commit to new goals and activities that will enhance our personal and professional lives. On behalf of Mattie’s Foundation, I encourage you to make peace one of those goals, for your family, for your child’s education environment, for your office space, for your every day life.
Begin by exploring our Foundation website! Many of our materials and networking opportunities are free. Download a translation of Mattie’s “For Our World” peace passage for your refrigerator, for your child’s classroom, or for your office bulletin board. Explore our Teacher Tips pages, or Mattie’s “Three Choices for Peace,” or our Peace is Possible photo gallery. Read some of the quotes by Mattie, or the feedback posted from website visitors, then share your own thoughts and photos to inspire others.
After you have browsed our pages, here are three specific actions you can choose that will enable us to work together as a community, and to foster personal and world peace:
Join our new Peace Club!
It takes only a minute to join, but the benefits can reach far into the future. Our Peace Club Kids is free for kids through age 12 years, and helps children understand that peace is fun, and it begins with each of us. Kids even have their own pages to display art, poetry, and other peace posts! Our Peace Club Teens can earn Community Service Hours by participating in a supported “Peace Journey” (no traveling required). Our Peace Club adult members can also enjoy benefits as they support our mission – for the cost of only about one coffee per month. We even have a VIP level for folks who choose to become Very Involved Peacemakers!
Become Peace Certified!
Peace Certification makes a statement about your choices as a parent, an educator, a health or childcare provider, a business owner, a political or community leader, a city or country, a youth organization — as any person or group who wants to be an agent of lasting and good change for our world. When you or your organization or community sign up to become certified, we send you our 24-page Peace Tips Guide and support you in exploring key elements of Mattie’s message (e.g., Heartsongs, hope, peace, service, kindness, resilience). We also support you in creating an activity or project plan for your family, your classroom, or your business that moves this message from a reflection, to a response and outreach endeavor.
Volunteer to serve on our Board of Directors or one of our Committees!
During our October 2012 quarterly meeting, we will be electing new members to our Board of Directors. Perhaps you have expertise in development, programming, or event planning, and you are willing to share a bit of your time and talent to support our mission. We are currently planning future Peace Celebrations, fundraisers, and other activities. We are also looking to expand our program and outreach endeavors. You might be exactly who we need for these activities! If you would like to discuss your role as either a Board Member or a Committee Member, please e-mail MattieOnline.com@Gmail.com with a statement of interest.
Why does Mattie’s Foundation matter?
Because peace matters, and our Foundation offers inspiration and information, programs and resources, to help make peace a choice that you understand, and can celebrate. Do more than “like” peace. Begin a journey of understanding and action by participating in the mission of the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation.