Community group is using “hope” to end violence

News

PEORIA, Ill. — Peoria Community Against Violence is striving to bring the community together with its first Hopefest event.

The event took place Saturday at Trewyn Middle School and brought out dozens of community resources including OSF Strive, Peoria District 150, Unity Point Behavioral Health and more.

Angel Cruz, who is the Don’t Shoot Community Outreach coordinator, came up with the idea for Hopefest and said the purpose of the event is to see local residents grab a hold of hope.

“We’re providing an atmosphere where we can meet them [residents] right where they’re at. Where people can know that what they’ve dreamed they’ve always wanted to be, they can become,” Cruz said. “We want to be that right hand of hope to reach those that feel hopeless.”

Cruz said this has been an event six months in the making as far as preparation.

Bobby Ford, Treasurer for PCAV, said Peoria is a community that’s dealt with a lot of trauma and events like Hopefest is not only a breath of fresh air but, above everything, it’s a community effort.

“This needs to be recognized,” Ford said. “This community is really working hard and now we’re just coming together to work as a team, and the future looks good.”

Cruz said one of the biggest missions of Hopefest is to show support for children and let them know they have people who want them to succeed and are willing to help them do so.

Shavanda Lindsey, a Peoria resident and mother, said it’s a sigh of relief knowing there’s events dedicated to showing children they’re loved.

“It feels awesome,” Lindsey said. “To me, it feels really great, I love it. I love that they’re out here supporting the kids and getting everything done for the kids and letting the kids know that there’s somebody out here that loves them in the community.”

Cruz said he’s already making plans for next year’s Hopefest. He said this is just the beginning of change in the community and he knows the future is bright.

“Our vision and our goal is to do this every year throughout the city. So this is only gonna get bigger.”

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