COLUMBIA — With members both young and old, local and regional, a diverse community came together to recognize two decades of a mission for peace.
Dozens gathered Sunday afternoon in and around Gordon Shelter in Stephens Lake Park for the anniversary of the Peace Nook, a local volunteer-based shop that is supported by Mid-Missouri Peaceworks.
“The community supported this work," said Mark Haim, director of Mid-Missouri Peaceworks. "Even though our store was in a basement, people found us. Twenty years later we are still being supported by people who share a notion for a more peaceful, more cooperative, sustainable and socially just future.”
The celebration ran from 3 to 8 p.m. and included a nature walk, a community potluck, games and raffle prizes. The prizes included jewelry, CDs, gift certificates and other store merchandise.
“A lot of people showed up right at three," said Sabrina Sponik, a Peace Nook volunteer. "Free T-shirts were given to the first 50 people, as well as the opportunity for raffle prizes."
The steady stream of live music kept a crowd around it during the festivities. Musical acts started at 3:30 p.m and continued until the close of the event. Performers included Lee Roth, John McHale, Universal Drum Appeal and Violet Vonder Haar.
McHale, a professor of communication at Illinois State University, praised Haim and the organization.
“Mark Haim and the Peace Nook uniquely provide a focus for conscious activism that is not found in every community," he said. "I’m here to celebrate what Columbia so uniquely has. I really appreciate Mark’s recognition that we can all make a difference.”
Founded in 1982, Mid-Missouri Peaceworks will be 29 years old in January. After eight years, the organization decided to extend its reach in Columbia.
“By 1990 we wanted to have a resource for society,” Haim said.
Two decades later, the organization has grown into a community.
"When we first started there was a vision, but we didn’t have as deep roots in the community," Haim said. "In the course of these decades, many hundreds of people have volunteered."
Haim maintains the organization's success is tied to those people who have dedicated their time to the store.
“The real story here is the volunteers who have sustained this operation," he said. "There are hundreds of them.”