By Leah Williams
Center of Hope Family Services, Inc. [Center of Hope] welcomed families from their Family Navigator and ELEVATE programs to the third annual Peace on Earth Celebration: A Multicultural Experience on December 19 in the lobby of the Lucas County Juvenile Justice Center.
While the Center of Hope Family Navigator Program is housed in the Justice Center itself and seeks to both help families increase their understanding of juvenile justice policies and connect to relevant social services, the Center of Hope ELEVATE after school program serves students at Martin Luther King Academy for Boys, Old West End Academy, and Robinson Elementary School.
In her opening remarks to the gathered families, Dr. Tracee Perryman, Center of Hope Family Services Inc. CEO and host for the evening shared that the idea for the Peace on Earth event was conceived in an administration meeting within the Juvenile Justice Center. She said that the vision for the event was to foster community and peace among families and members of the justice system.
“The vision is for today, and every year, to be a space where, no matter where we come from, no matter what we have been through, no matter where we sit in this community – we will all agree on one thing – peace and good will toward one another,” Dr. Perryman said. “Today – we relate not as law enforcement to civilian, not as law enforcement to defendant, not as a have to a have not. Today – we will relate to one another as human to human.”
The festive event featured multiple activity stations where children could take pictures with Santa and Mrs. Clause, decorate Christmas cookies, create tree ornaments, and play games. The event also included live music, food, and a meet and greet between families and juvenile court administrative staff including The Honorable Denise Navarre Cubbon, Administrative Judge of the Lucas County Juvenile Court.
During the event program, Pastor Robert Lyons, Center of Hope Program Director, presented awards to mothers and fathers who graduated from the Center of Hope Nurturing Parents Parenting Support Program. In addition, Brandon Wilson, Center of Hope Site Coordinator at Old West End Academy, presented awards to students in the ELEVATE program who demonstrated strong academic progress during the first semester.
“Too often, we wait until children do something wrong before we pay them attention,” Dr. Perryman said in her introduction of Mr. Wilson. “Their early years are their most critical years. If we want them to grow up peaceful and productive, then we have to get involved when they are young.”
Following the awards, Dr. Perryman performed alongside ELEVATE program students from both Robinson Elementary School and Old West End Academy. The Robinson choir performed their new school song while the Old West End choir performed their newest single ‘Children of Royalty’ – both songs were written and produced by Dr. Perryman and Marcus Devine.
Before the families were treated to a catered soul food dinner by Gloria Riley, Dr. Perryman took time to recognize the families in attendance, their event sponsors, administrative staff, partners, and her mother Mrs. Willetta Perryman, Center of Hope Chief Operating Officer and committee chairperson for the Peace on Earth event.
Dr. Perryman said that it was her mother’s vision to engage the court and its departments in providing a beautifully decorated holiday space filled with love and peace. “[Mrs. Perryman] quietly but effectively leads and motivates us to treat our families and the community like royalty,” Dr. Perryman said.
Following dinner, the rest of the evening was spent on fellowship, fun activities, and music. Presents were gifted to every child in attendance and the success of the event was readily seen on the smiling faces of all those in attendance.