People Engaged in Active Community Efforts (PEACE)

People Engaged in Active Community Efforts (PEACE)

Youth crime, wage theft, unemployment… Palm Beach, Florida, has many of the same problems as any area with a rapidly growing population and a number of people living in poverty.

To address the issues at a community level, the people of 25 parishes came together in 1991 to form the group People Engaged In Active Community Efforts (PEACE). One of their initiatives was to address youth crime through the use of restorative justice, using a neighborhood accountability board to bring the victim, young perpetrator and trained community members together to decide how to repair the harm committed. It’s an effective tool; similar programs in the state report a recidivism rate of just 4%.

Now the people of PEACE are focusing on another issue that threatens the area’s economic health: wage theft. Currently, undocumented day laborers and hospitality workers have little recourse if their employers fail to pay them. Unscrupulous employers take full advantage of this fact. Wage theft is not only rampant in the area, it’s a problem that robs families and touches entire communities. PEACE is working to stem the problem with the passage of a wage-theft ordinance. Another PEACE initiative addresses unemployment by making sure that local contracting groups can take advantage of public works projects.

With funds from CCHD, PEACE has increased its staff to three organizers. “CCHD makes grassroots efforts like these possible,” says Emily Small of PEACE. “We are a group of 25 faith organizations with a mutual interest in economic injustice, and this organization helps us all live out that call.”

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