It means something when a volunteer offers his or her time over a period of several decades to an organization. Lee Beckhusen, retired Presbyterian minister and Peace Ed’s board of directors chair, became acquainted with Peace Ed nearly two decades ago. After an initial six-year term on the board, she continued serving on committees and helping out at special events until returning to the board five years ago. “I’m someone that’s been hanging around for quite a while,” she says.
Lee had known about Peace Ed because its offices are located in Central Presbyterian Church where she is a part of the congregation. “I knew through my church about some of the hands-on work with kids in the community and schools [that Peace Ed was doing],” she says. “I could see through the enthusiasm of our church that it was a good place to be involved.”
Peace Ed’s focus has long been on teaching children, teenagers, and young adults conflict resolution strategies and empowering them to manage their own emotions, but the need for Peace Ed’s work has increased due to the various stressors of the past 18 months, especially the COVID-19 pandemic and continuing gun violence in Kentuckiana. Over the long term, continued stress tends to make people more irritable which frequently leads to more conflict. So many of us, especially our young people, are struggling right now so the need for Peace Ed’s involvement is more critical than ever before.
“Our trainers in the community are so respected, well-regarded, and well-trained. Their reputation is just stellar,” she says. In addition to the goodwill Peace Ed creates, the metrics bear out that Peace Ed programming works. “Statistics show that we’re making an impact,” Lee says.
Individuals who have survived gunshot injuries and other types of violence are frequently referred to Peace Ed’s Pivot to Peace program by other trauma workers and other resource centers in our community. “What we do is offer guidance, help make connections in the community, and provide counseling and mentoring,” Lee says. “In that program, we have been 96 percent successful in helping people to avoid retaliation and re-injury.”
“I’m so proud of our staff. We’re not the biggest organization in town, but we’ve had a gigantic impact,” Lee says. “This kind of work is so needed.”
By Carrie Vittitoe