Jan. 30-Feb. 17, 2020

On January 31, Jeni Stepanek & #PeaceTeam members Laura Bauer, Barry McConatha, and Marc Birnbach accompanied former Global Teen Leader Sanah Jivani as she visited and spoke with the scholars and advisors at Furlow Charter School and led workshops about the importance of self-love.

Sanah and the rest of the team participated in a #ToastToPeace event at Toboggan Steve’s later that afternoon. Hosted by owner Steve Miller; musicians Abe Partridge, Brandon Fox, Evan Barber and Taylor Cook lent their talents to the cause, raising awareness of the need to #ChoosePeace for self, family, friends, community, and the world. By helping to #MakePeaceTheNews, Toboggan Steve’s became the first #PeaceCertified live music venue/bar/restaurant in Georgia.

Yasmin Hasnain, owner of Yasmin’s Art Classes, became #PeaceCertified by the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation on February 1. Yasmin reflected on one of Mattie’s poems and considered how the message touched her heart and supported her in choosing peace. She responded to that message with a beautiful piece of art from her heart. She then chose to go to the next level and reach out with the message – inviting teenage young ladies with their mothers and friends to come to her studio to learn more about Mattie and the messages he shared for all of us, and then create their own peace expressions.

Jeni was the closing speaker at the Building Creative Communities Conference in Colquitt, GA on February 2. In its third year, BC3 is an annual convergence of community change agents that takes place in the tiny, artsy town of Colquitt, Georgia. At this transformational gathering, changemakers from down the road and around the world develop tools for story sharing, creative leadership, and collaboration.

In early February, Jeni worked with Marle Usry of the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site Education Program in Plains, GA to create supplements to the Pathways to Peace “Peace Tips Guide” that adhere to Georgia Department of Education standards. This work will complete the Peace Certification process for the State School of Georgia. Approximately 5000 students visit Plains High School and the Carter Boyhood Farm each year to learn about the peacemaking legacy of President Carter. Beginning in May of 2020, they will also be introduced to the legacy of Mattie J.T. Stepanek; a poet, peacemaker, and philosopher who dared to play after every storm.

The Foundation #PeaceTeam also met with new #PeacePartners Koinonia Farm and Fellowship Baptist Church during the first week of February.

On February 6, Jeni recognized the current Mattie J.T. Stepanek Caregiving Scholarship recipients at an awards luncheon given in their honor by the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving (RCI) at Georgia Southwestern State University. This is the 15th year of the scholarship, begun by the RCI to honor Mattie’s legacy related to caregiving, hope, and resilience. To date, 65 family caregivers have received $2000 each to help them enhance their knowledge and skills to provide care to others while taking care of themselves.

Mattie Foundation #PeaceTeam members were thrilled to participate in the 2020 Night to Shine at First Baptist Church in Americus on Friday, February 7. Night to Shine is an unforgettable prom night experience, centered on God’s love, for people with special needs ages 16 and older.

On February 8, Americus Arts became a #Peace Certified Community Program by funding and hosting a “Hope Through Heartsongs” workshop with area youth. After learning from Jeni Stepanek about Mattie’s life and messages of hope and peace, each teen shared their own “I am…” statement and painted an expression of it for a work of art that will be exhibited across Sumter County.

During the second week of February, Jeni held follow-up meetings with advisors and scholars at Furlow Charter School , the first #PeaceCertified School in the south. Jeni enjoys her role as “Mama Peace”, mentoring youth from Kindergarten through High School there.

On February 11, Jeni talked with peers at the Perry Wellness Center before speaking to the Rotary Club of Americus.

On Valentine’s Day, Jeni addressed the first cohort of Georgia Southwestern State University students enrolled in the President Jimmy Carter Leadership Program.

The Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation held a Community Forum for Peace on Saturday, February 15 at the Perry Wellness Center. In addition to increasing awareness of the peacemaking efforts currently in progress, the Foundation’s goal was to learn from residents what they see as their community’s strengths and challenges related to peace and brainstorm ways to balance these to create new #Pathways2Peace. Two dozen citizens attended, and have begun working in earnest to make Americus/Sumter County a more peaceful community that can serve as a model for peace for other communities.

  • #PeaceMatters #KindnessMatters
  • #MattieMatters #YouMatter #WeMatter
  • #PeaceisPossible #ChoosePeace
  • #MattiesFoundation #MattieOnline
  • #Americus/SumterCountyRocks