Matt Hawco with paper chain
AMHERST – Rockets are flying in the Gaza strip. But here at home, the Cumberland YMCA is celebrating Peace Week.
“(To) bring awareness, really,” said Mac Hawco, administrative and development manager.
Hawco said it’s the 25th anniversary of the annual YMCA event, which has been marked in Amherst for well over a decade. The focus of the local Y is on peace in the community and in our own lives. That could mean thinking about issues like domestic abuse, bullying or crime, or it could mean looking for ways to help others, even by holding a door open.
“Just to start little and move from there,” said the manager.
Members may notice a paper chain hanging by the front desk. Slips of paper on the desk can be used by members who want to contribute to the chain. People are writing what peace means to them, or how they intend to contribute to building peace, on a slip of paper, which then becomes a new stapled link in the chain. The chain symbolizes strength, said Hawco, and working on the chain is something accessible to all members, young and old (some of the youngest contributors have coloured their slips, instead of writing on them).
“We’re hoping to have it go all through (the) building,” he said.
At least a couple of local residents will be awarded the YMCA’s peace medallion at an invitation-only breakfast held Friday. The medallion is awarded to a person who’s been active in the community as a volunteer or peace-broker. Other activities this week include painting with a peace theme as part of the organization’s youth programming, as well as a yoga class with a peace theme.