Peace House Community values the “Community” part of our name. PHC’s founder, Sister Rose Tilleman, focused on people rather than things, and as such she wanted to bring together a community rather than open a drop-in center. Since PHC was founded, its members, volunteers and Board have found many ways of keeping the focus on inter-personal relationships.
We were reminded of the value of those relationships recently when we received a letter from Riyadh, a community member who is currently in one of the state correctional facilities. After updating us on his life, he wrote:
Peace House has always had a special place in my heart. I been in and out since the late 90s and Peace House never changed or turned its back on me, period. When I do get out on parole I plan to stop by and drink a cup of coffee, eat a donut and see how long before somebody recognizes me! Ha ha. Well, hope everyone’s day is blessed and if you think of an old friend or family member you ain’t spoke with in a few, go ahead and check on them and say hi on the phone, social media or best yet, in person. Take care.
To put Riyadh’s letter in perspective, he has been incarcerated for the last six years and has and has over nine years left in his sentence. Despite that, many of the community members who were present when we read his letter remembered him and immediately began passing around a greeting card to let him know he was still part of the community. Even those who had never met Riyadh (including me) signed the card, because we know that being part of a community involves more than just where you are physically. It means sharing and identity. It means having a base that keeps you stable. It means that you are known and loved.
In a world of electronic social media, mass marketing, mega-churches and mega-cities, it is easy to feel depersonalized and anonymous. It can take a deliberate effort to maintain real personal connections. Riyadh’s letter was a wonderful reminder of the power of such connection, and why they are worth fighting for.
This article originally appeared in “The Alley,” the newspaper for the Phillips neighborhood of Minneapolis.