Our Staff The Peace Corner Youth Center is a drop-in center for young people on Chicago's West Side, located at the intersection of Madison St. and Lavergne St., just across the street form McDonald's. The Peace Corner opened in January 2002 to provide neighborhood youths with a safe place to gather, do their homework, and participate in various recreation and learning activities. The Peace Corner is open Monday through Friday from 2: 00 p.m. until 7: 00 p.m. It is a welcoming and caring environment within a neighborhood characterized by crime and violence. The Peace Corner has quickly built up a base of loyal visitors and participants. Each day, approximately 50 - 70 youths come to the Center. We actually have very little to offer in the way of equipment and furnishings-a pool table, a ping-pong table and a few computers. But the young people have developed a sense of ownership of the facility, not only because they find acceptance, respect and caring here, but also because many of them have personally helped with the rehabilitation and fix up of our rented space. In fact, after only a few months of operation, we realized a need for additional space and rented three large rooms at the rear of our storefront. We strongly encourage the active participation of young people in the improvement and maintenance of the Peace Corner because it helps to increase their attachment and respect for our shared space. Even more important, it deepens their experience of creating something valuable through their own efforts. It gives them hope that they can change things for the better, and helps them to understand that possibilities can become real through dedication and effort. The Peace Corner tries to provide a safe space that is open to everyone in the neighborhood. Regular participants have attachments to no less than five different gangs, yet we have never had a fight inside the facility. Instead, several instances of peace and reconciliation have occurred through the mediation of Peace Corner staff. We are gradually breaking down the artificial barriers that separate young people in the neighborhood. Our children live in the midst of this violence. This is why the Peace Corner provides a space where young people can gather in an atmosphere of safety and caring, where they can be children, and where they can experience genuine feelings rather than the superficial toughness they must exhibit on the streets. The basis of the Peace Corner program is a modest recreation effort. This effort, built around limited amenities and occasional field trips, represents an initial attraction for young people in a community that offers few positive options for them. Recreation is the basis for relationship building and more substantive assistance. Because of the limited resources of the Peace Corner, volunteers have been a key component in the expanding range of programs. In each program area, we attempt to respond to the expressed needs of young people using the facilities of the Center and to the people in the community as well.