Amber Mclean, student and program director for Peace Out, explained what Peace Out is, “It’s an 8-week after school program for teenagers where they pick something in the community that they are passionate about and we show them ways to attain that goal. For example, if someone in their family had cancer and they wanted to raise money for cancer we would show them ways to attain that goal.”
Peace Out is a great way for students to obtain their community service hours which are required for graduating from certain high schools in Washington state. Peace Out is located at 2811 Bridgeport Way West University Place, Washington 98466.
Amber described how the program worked in detail: “The first day/week the students attend a non-profit fair to interview non-profits to give them an idea of what organization they would want to raise money for. After they choose their non-profit organization, they go into teams of four and every day they have a check list in which each student gets a job title (marketing director, executive director, volunteer director, development director, and community outreach director) depending on their title, they work on that role. They’ll file a fake article for a corporation. Some of the duties each of the jobs have include: the marketing director will make flyers, set up a Face Book event, and be in charge of invitations. The volunteer director will recruit volunteers at their booth. The development director will work on their budget, track donations in a bank/receipt booklet, and perform team financial goals. The community outreach director does thank you cards for everybody and helps with blogging and Twitter. They would contact media people as well. The executive director watches over the whole team and makes sure they meet their deadlines. They are in charge of keeping everyone motivated. The executive director gets the business plan. They’ll show and teach each person what they need to get done each day.
The students hold their position throughout the 8 weeks.
Students attend the program three days a week after school. We offer these sessions quarterly (four times a year) and there are about 40 students in the program right now. At the end of the
summer the students do a carnival. This year we are teaming up with the Tacoma Rainiers and doing the carnival inside the stadium for the last game of the year.
The carnival is their fundraiser. The students have a booth at the carnival and they are in charge of planning the whole thing. Some examples include: face painting, throwing darts at balloons, bobbing for apples, etc. A lot of times non-profit organizations will come and support them, too.
The carnival this year is Saturday, August 25, 2012 at Cheney Stadium. Every summer the carnival is normally at a retirement home but, Cheney Stadium contacted us. Every ticket they sell, a portion goes to the non-profit they pick.
The carnival includes live entertainment: 40 different games to play and the students collect stuffed animals for prizes, plan the carnival, too and make invitations and flyers and events on Facebook.
Depending on how much the students raise, will go to their non-profit.
There will be one more class after the carnival to total up the money and fill out their giant check to their non-profit organization. There is a banquet that all non-profits and families are invited to where a video recap of their session is presented along with the check to their non-profit. The students talk about their experience and everybody cries.”
Amber described how students can earn their community service hours: “After completing their first time through the 8-week session, students earn a ribbon and 25 community service hours, which they can apply toward their graduation requirement for high school. Last year, 90% of our students came back and went through another session after they received their community service hours; so it’s pretty cool. The amount of community service hours required for high school graduation varies from school to school.
The second time through an 8-week session, students earn a volunteer pin and 25 hours of community service. The third time through an 8-week session students earn a peace sign that they can put onto a leather man jacket and 25 community service hours.
Students are encouraged throughout the year to volunteer for other community events on certain weekends to earn more community service hours. We do them because that’s our passion.”
Amber commented: “Our goal for the students going through the program is to learn about compassion and that they can give money even when they have no money to give. That’s what the program’s all about.”
When asked how long the program has been around and how it came about, Amber replied, “Michelle Mclean, director of Peace Out, and my mother, Danielle, my sister, and I had a neighbor named Tara Calguri. She had cancer passed away shortly after we planned a walk-athon fundraiser for her called, “Tarathon” in Fircrest in the year 2000. We raised $16,000.
Two years after that, a family friend of ours had brain cancer. We asked my little sister’s friend’s mom what her only wish was and she wanted to take her two kids to Disney Land. We were able to fund her airline ticket and her two kids’ airline ticket through donations, a limo to/from the airport for them, and an entire 4-day stay at the park. We called all our friends and got it all donated.
We’re like a middle class family and do not have money to buy her a ticket.
So, we did this in 2002. We thought about Peace Out, plans of it, and dreamt about it for 7 years, and finally the idea was real enough to turn it into our job. September 2007 we became a non-profit organization and in May 2010 we had our first 8-week program. Our website is: mypeaceout.org.”
When asked what she thought of Peace Out, Amber replied, “I made $2.80 cents an hour; it’s my passion. I spend every second thinking about it. I love everything about it and what we’ve become and watching the kids grow. It’s the most amazing job in the world. I can’t believe I’m 25 and I have my dream job.”
Amber discussed the best thing about her job, “Every single day I feel like I’ve changed somebody’s life for the better. Literally, every day is rewarding.”
Amber mentioned what many people may not know about Peace Out, “Whether you’re with a business, adult, a student, or a non-profit Peace Out can touch them in some way. We’re finding local businesses in the community to do business philanthropy where the student goes through the program and can team them up with a local business. The local business helps the student raise money for their non-profit of their choice.
We’re looking for local businesses to do a “business philanthropy” and we will be doing this in the fall.
For students that are interested in the Peace Out 8-week program, it’s $50 and students are not turned away if they cannot afford the cost (community sponsors will sponsor students that cannot afford the $50).”
When asked how Peace Out was unique compared to other businesses, Amber replied, “What makes us different is that there’s no other organization that just doesn’t give to local non-profits, but teaches students to give to non-profits so that they continue giving their entire lifetime. We’re like a non-profit for other non-profits.” Michelle Mclean, director of Peace Out, commented on how Peace Out was unique, “One of the things I believe we’re unique is how we build a connection in the community. We hold our programs in retirement homes. We have this really great way for teenagers to be with senior citizens, businesses, non-profits; we build these really great connections for the kids. I think that’s one of the greatest pieces of it.
We are a intergenerational program. All of our programs are held at retirement homes. We connect teams with senior citizens and the senior citizens have to teach teens about philanthropy and the boards they served on. Kids get to learn about that and seniors get to learn about the great things the teenagers are doing.”
For more information, please visit: mypeaceout.org. “Every teenager and every non-profit can benefit from Peace Out,” Amber concluded.
By: Carly Calabrese, staff for Tacoma.com