Our History (Timeline)

Posted on: August 18th, 2012 by jeni No Comments

Our History (Foundation Timeline) 


  • Mattie J.T. Stepanek, “poet, peacemaker, and philosopher who played” dies just before his 14th birthday (June 22, 2004)


  • The City of Rockville, Maryland votes to name a 26-acre park to be developed in the north end of the King Farm community after Mattie (March 2005)
  • The Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation is founded by a small group of citizens in King Farm (April 2005)
  • A five member Board of Directors defines the mission, vision, values and goals for Mattie’s Foundation, which includes furthering Mattie’s message and mission of peace and supporting the development of a Peace Garden in the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Park (Spring 2005)
  • The groundbreaking ceremony for the future Mattie J.T. Stepanek Park is attended by hundreds (June 2005)
  • Mattie’s final collection of poetry — Reflections of a Peacemaker: A Portrait Through Heartsongs — with eight chapters of verse, an excerpt from a novel he was working on (Eyes), and essays contributions from Oprah Winfrey, Jimmy Carter, Maya Angelou, Larry King, Jerry Lewis, Chris Cuomo, Jann Carl, Christopher Cross, Murray Pollock, Isadore Dixon, and Jeni Stepanek is released and reaches the NY Times Bestseller list (August 2005)


  • Mattie’s final book, a collection of peace essays, poetry, and communications with Former US President Jimmy Carter – Just Peace: A Message of Hope – is released and reaches the NY Times Bestseller list (March 2006)
  • Mattie’s Foundation is approved by the IRS as a not-for-profit 501(c)3 organization (Spring 2006)
  • J. Stanley Schmidt is appointed the first Executive Director of the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation (Fall 2006)
  • The public library in Rockville, Maryland invites Mattie’s Foundation to loan items for a Mattie J.T. Stepanek exhibit that will be available for visitors for two years (Summer 2006)


  • Mattie’s Just Peace book is awarded the IPPY Gold Medal for the Peacemaker Book of the Year Category (Spring 2007)
  • The first Mattie’s Heartsong Swim fundraiser event is organized collaboratively by Mattie’s Foundation and the King Farm Screaming Geese Swim Team (July 2007)
  • The City of Rockville declares a Mattie Stepanek Week (July 2007)
  • Mattie’s Foundation collaborates with the City of Rockville as plans are defined for a Peace Garden central to the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Park (throughout 2007 and 2008)


  • The 2008 Mattie’s Heartsong Swim fundraiser event is organized collaboratively by Mattie’s Foundation and the King Farm Screaming Geese Swim Team (July 2008)
  • The City of Rockville and Montgomery Country, Maryland both declare a Mattie Stepanek Week (July 2008)
  • The Oprah Winfrey Angel Foundation gifts Mattie’s Foundation with $50,000 to begin creating educational materials and activities that will further our mission through peace education (Fall, 2008)
  • The Mattie J.T. Stepanek Park Opening Ceremony and Dedication event (hosted by the City of Rockville in collaboration with Mattie’s Foundation) is attended by thousands, from neighbors to celebrities (October 18, 2008)
  • The Mattie J.T. Stepanek Library Exhibit created by Mattie’s Foundation is transfered to Carlstadt, New Jersey, where the school system has created a Mattie Stepanek Peace Library and where “Mattie Stepanek Day” is celebrated every May 22 (November 2008)


  • The Mattie J.T. Stepanek Park & Peace Garden in Rockville, MD are recognized with green space and architectural beauty awards by the State of Maryland (2009)
  • Inspired by Mattie’s Park and a “green space for peace,” a multi-acre Peace Park in Honor of Mattie Stepanek is created and dedicated by the Mayor, School Board, Citizens, and Children of Carlstadt, New Jersey, complete with a bust of Mattie and a tree honoring Mattie and his siblings — Katie, Stevie, and Jamie (June 2009)
  • A two-year archiving project begins which will result in the organization of thousands of media clippings and communications to or about Mattie (June 2009)
  • The 2009 Mattie’s Heartsong Swim fundraiser event is organized collaboratively by Mattie’s Foundation and the King Farm Screaming Geese Swim Team (July 2009)
  • The City of Rockville and Montgomery Country, Maryland both declare a Mattie Stepanek Week (July 2009)
  • Mattie’s memoir, penned by his mom, Jeni Stepanek — Messenger: The Legacy of Mattie J.T. Stepanek and Heartsongs — is released (November 2009)


  • Jeni Stepanek, Ph.D. is appointed to serve as Executive Director of Mattie’s Foundation after health and personal issues led to the resignation of J. Stanley Schmidt (January 2010)
  • Mattie’s personal website (www.MattieOnline.com) is revised by Jeni so that is will serve as a resource for Mattie’s Foundation (Spring 2010)
  • Mattie’s Foundation launches Mattie’s Peace Network — a registry for people who want to stay up to date on the work and activities of the Foundation (Spring 2010)
  • Mattie’s memoir (Messenger) is released in paperback (September 2010)
  • Mattie’s Foundation launches the “For Our World Campaign” (September 11, 2010)
  • The first “e-Peace Update” from Mattie’s Foundation is sent to members of Mattie’s Peace Network (Fall 2010)


  • Oprah Winfrey names Mattie one of the three “Most Memorable Guests” on her 25 year talk show. Jeni Stepanek is invited to talk with her during the final studio audience Oprah Winfrey Show, about Mattie’s life, legacy and Foundation, and possible Cause for Canonization in the Catholic Church (May 2011)
  • Messenger (Mattie’s memoir) becomes a NY Times Bestseller (June 2011)
  • The City of Rockville declares a Mattie Stepanek Week (August 28-September 3, 2011)
  • Despite rain, hundreds attend a Peace Celebration hosted by Mattie’s Foundation at the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Park and Peace Garden (September 3, 2011)
  • Mattie’s Foundation shares the first materials created for their new “Pathways to Peace” Program — an inspirational and educational outreach effort for people of all ages that supports an exploration of key elements of Mattie’s message (September 2011)
  • Mattie’s Foundation Board of Directors becomes national as the first out of local area member (from Georgia) begins a three-year service term (November 2013)
  • Jeni Stepanek (Mattie’s mom and Foundation Executive Director) is awarded the Pax Christi “Peacemaker of the Year” award in celebration of her peace mission and efforts (November 2011).


  • Mattie’s Foundation launches a Membership Program (Mattie’s Peace Club) for Kids, Teens, Adults, VIPs (Very Involved Peacemakers), and Messengers (sponsors) during a complete revision of the website (May 2012)
  • Mattie’s Foundation launches a new website “Spotlight Feature” to celebrate individuals and groups who reflect Mattie’s “Three Choices for Peace” concept as role model Peace Seekers, Peace Makers, Peace Bringers, and/or Peace Sponsors (June 2012)
  • Mattie’s Foundation launches a “Teen Peace Journey” program to support teens in reflecting on, responding to, and reaching out with a message of peace while creating and carrying our a Community Service project (June 2012)
  • Omékongo Dibinga, Director of UPstander International and Mattie’s Foundation Board Director, creates and records Moved by a Messenger as a Foundation rap song.
  • Mattie’s Foundation celebrates the first annual “Make Peace the News” summer outreach activity and photo gallery with the 2012 theme “Peace Is Possible” (June-August 2012)
  • Mattie’s Foundation creates a Peace Certification Program for individuals (educators, parents, leaders) and communities/groups (cities/counties, schools, youth groups, businesses, community organizations) complete with a new 24-page Peace Tips Guide — an expansion of the Pathways to Peace Program (July 2012)
  • Mattie’s Foundation and Jeni Stepanek are recognized as Day of Peace Honorees by the MY HERO Organization during the September 11 anniversary focus (September 2012)
  • More than 1,000 ornaments are created and contributed by people of diverse ages, abilities, faiths, and nationalities who live on six continents for the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Peace Tree exhibit — a 2012 winter outreach activity (October-December 2012)


  • New materials are added to the Pathways to Peace Program, including 8 new inspiration cards and 3 new posters (January 2013)
  • Mattie’s Foundation and Jeni Stepanek are recognized as Martin Luther King, Jr. “Day of Service Honorees” for peace work by the MY HERO Organization (January 2013)
  • Jeni Stepanek (Mattie’s mom and Foundation Executive Director) is awarded the 2012 Mattie J.T. Stepanek Peacemaker Award by the We Are Family Foundation in celebration of her peace mission and support of the the Three Dot Dash Global Teen Leader Initiative (January 2013)
  • The first two Peace Certified Communities register for the Foundation’s new program — an elementary school and a retirement community. Also the first two international Peace Certified People register — both from provinces in Canada (Spring 2013)
  • Mattie’s Foundation celebrates the second annual “Make Peace the News” summer outreach activity and photo gallery with the 2013 theme “Kindness Campaign: An Antidote for Bullying” (June-August 2013)
  • Peace Activity Certificate program is launch for Mattie’s Peace Club Tweens –  (older Peace Club Kids who want to move from attitude to action by creating or participating in a Peace Activity). The first two PCTw youth to be recognized are from the United States and from Indonesia (Summer 2013)
  • Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) submits a request for a National Peace Day in Honor of Mattie Stepanek. Former US President Jimmy Carter offers support for the endeavor (Summer 2013)
  • A “Peace Activity Certificate” program is developed for Mattie’s Peace Club Tweens (older Peace Club Kids who want to move from attitude to action by creating or participating in a Peace Activity). The first two PCTw youth to be recognized are from the United States and from Indonesia (Fall 2013)
  • Mattie’s Foundation Board of Directors becomes international as the first out-of-country member (living in Greece) begins a term of service term (November 2013)
  • Global neighbors of diverse ages, faiths, and abilities from 32 countries on 6 continents participate in Mattie’s 2013 Peace Tree & Poetry activity. Photos of international ornaments and displays are collected for the Foundation’s 2013 Peace Tree. Poetry translations and video readings of a Mattie poem are collected, posted, and brought together into the Foundation’s first ever global peace video — “December Prayer.” The Peace Tree then went on a “global peace mission” via social media (October-December 2013)
  • View our 2013 Foundation summary news story here… 


  • Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) submits a letter of support towards the Mattie Stepanek Peace Day endeavor initiated in 2013 by Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and supported by Former US President Jimmy Carter (January 2014)
  • Mattie’s Foundation receives $6,000 in grant funds from the Catholic Campaign on Human Development to support making the Peace Certification Program accessible to low-income families and schools in the DC area (February 2014)
  • The 2nd Annual Spirit of Mattie Awards are given to three students (elementary, middle school, and high school) who competed in the Southern Arizona Science Fair. All three students are offered a one-year membership in Mattie’s Peace Club Kids, Tweens, or Teens program and peace posters as a part of the award (March 2014)
  • Yuka Saionji Maatsuri of Japan donates a “May peace prevail on earth…” Peace Pole to Mattie’s Foundation for Mattie’s Park & Peace Garden. The pole will be unveiled during the summer Peace Gathering in honor of Mattie’s life and legacy (May 2014)
  • A growing number of politicians and national organizations along with thousands of global citizens support the “President Obama – please declare July 17 Mattie J.T. Stepanek Peace Day Campaign” by signing the online petition or writing letters of support (Spring/Summer 2014)
  • A short documentary film project is initiated to express and celebrate Mattie’s life and legacy, and the peace day journey (Spring/Summer 2014)
  • A 10-year anniversary memorial Mass to celebrate Mattie’s life and legacy is con-celebrated by several priests who supported Mattie’s spiritual growth at the Franciscan Monastery in Washington, DC. During the reception following the Mass, founding members of Mattie’s Guild (Cause for Canonization) share their invitation for reflections by others on Mattie’s “heroic virtues.” (June 2014)
  • Mattie Stepanek Peace Day is proclaimed at a local level for July 17 by the Mayor and City of Rockville, MD in honor of Mattie’s life and legacy of peace (July 2014).
  • Maryland Senators Barbara Mikulksi and Ben Cardin jointly introduce a House Resolution on July 17 (Mattie’s birthday) to recognize the day in the Senate as Mattie J.T. Stepanek World Peace Day (July 2014).
  • A Peace Gathering – “conversation and cake to celebrate Mattie’s life and legacy” in honor of Mattie’s 10 year anniversary and 24th birthday brings together children and adults from around the globe, who helped unveil the new Peace Pole donated by Japanese peace activist Yuka Saionji Matsuura (July 2014).
  • A free, entry level is added to the Foundation’s Pathways to Peace — Peace Certification Program, in which participants can earn a Peace Activity Certificate for their class, school, organization, business, group, or community (September 2014).
  • Global neighbors in more than 30 countries representing every continent around the world participate in the Mattie’s Peace Tree 2014 activity sponsored by Mattie’s Foundation (October-December 2014).
  • View our 2014: A Year in Review news story here… 


  • A Teaching Peace resource page is added to Mattie’s website as the Foundation increases their effort to support peace education for global youth and adults (January 2015).
  • Plans for a Peace Gathering in Mattie’s Park & Peace Garden are made to commemorate his 25th birthday (July 17 — “Peace Day”), and to build on the July 4 Fireworks Celebration to be held in Mattie’s Park by the City of Rockville, Maryland.
  • The My Hero Project recognizes Mattie as an influential poet and peace activist during National Poetry Month 2015.
  • On June 22, the Mayor and City Council declared July 17 (Mattie’s birthday) to be “Peace Day” for the citizens of  City of Rockville, Maryland. Peace Day was commemorated during the July 4 Peace Gathering in Mattie’s Park.
  • The 2015 Peace Gathering in Mattie’s Park & Peace Garden on July 4 was a great success, with hundreds of “#Change4Peace” participants and Heartsongs talent presentations by children and adults from across the county and remarks made by the Mayor and Council of Rockville, MD and local politicians. The event was followed by the City’s fireworks party and celebration.
  • 2015 WAFF Global Teen Leader Justin Bachman initiates a fundraising campaign to place mosaic gifts bricks representing every GTL across the years in Mattie’s Peace Garden.


  • Mattie’s July 17 birthday is declared ”Mattie’s Peace Day” by the City of Rockville, to be celebrated during a collaborative July 4 event in Mattie’s Park — the Foundation’s annual Peace Gathering followed by the City’s annual fireworks celebration.
  • Mattie’s Foundation hosts their first “Pathways to Peace Train-the-Trainer Workshop – a two-day event held in Baltimore, Maryland attended by international participants.
  • Ingleside at King Farm, a retirement community that became Peace Certified by Mattie’s Foundation during 2014, hosts their 1st Annual Mattie J.T. Stepanek Peace Lecture.
  • Jeni Stepanek, PhD, honored with the 2016 My Hero “Humanitarian Award” during the 12th Annual International Film Festival — for her “work as a mother, an author, and a peace activist.”


  • Jeni Stepanek, representing as Executive Director of Mattie’s Foundation, as MDA National Vice President, and as a long time friend of the International Association of Fire Fighters, delivers the eulogy for IAFF Greenburgh, NY Fire Fighter Robert “Bubba Bert” Mentrasti who died as a result of “9/11 related cancer.” Bubba Bert was one of the two fire fighters who rode the back of the fire truck during Mattie’s funeral in 2004.
  • Mattie’s July 17 birthday is declared ”Mattie’s Peace Day” by the City of Rockville, to be celebrated during a collaborative “indoor/outdoor” party on July 16. Local radio station Mix107.3 makes the 2017 Peace Day Party an official station event.
  • Community and business leaders (including The City of Rockville, King Farm Citizens Assembly, Botanero Restaurant, and Fontina Grille) embrace and support the National Peace Day Campaign and local Peace Day Party celebration, and the concept of a peace journey – expressing commitment to a Peace Certification endeavor for local citizens.
  • The Washingtonian Magazine covers the Peace Day Campaign as a part of an feature article on Mattie’s life and legacy and the ongoing peace mission of his mom, Jeni, and her dedication to the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation.


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January Spotlight

May 5 at Botanero

Cinco de Mayo Partnership Fiesta - FREE ENTRY - All Day Happy Hour & food specials, Music by DJ Genius, ZamDance performances -- join us for a fundraising party that celebrates peace and acceptance! Read more...

June 2 at Dawson's

Mosaics & Music: Make Peace the News -- join us for wine & apps, music & mosaic unveiling, conversation & celebration at a fundraising gathering to promote peace! Early Bird Tickets $25 ($30 at the door). Read more...

June 21 and 22

Celebrating Mattie’s life & legacy – 15-year anniversary Mass on June 22 (11 am) at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Derwood, MD, followed by a reception hosted by Mattie's Guild - ALL ARE WELCOME. Read more...

July 13 in King Farm

2019 Peace Day Celebration – join us for a FREE street fair (1-5 pm), all day food & drink specials (1-8 pm), and a Happy Hour Dance Party (5-8 pm) – arts, crafts, music, performers, cake, moon bounce… Read more...

- Mattie J.T. Stepanek