After months of deliberation and thorough exploration of alternatives, the Board of Directors has decided to close Hands of Peace. After hanging on during COVID, the Board did not see the bounce back in funding, volunteerism or leadership needed to sustain the organization. With sadness, the closure will be effective March 31, 2024.
Our focus for the next four months will be on supporting 840 Hands of Peace alumni as they face devastating violence in the Middle East, along with rising antisemitism and Islamophobia around the world.
Next Steps for Alumni
Staff are engaged in conversations with other peacebuilding organizations working in Israel, Palestine and the United States to find space in their alumni programs and networks to make sure that our alumni will be able to continue to build on the legacy of the last two decades and bring positive peace to their communities.
This is a time when all alumni need compassionate emotional support, a safe space to process not only what has happened, but what is happening every day. They need help focusing on dialogue, peacebuilding and activism to break this vicious cycle of hatred and violence. Whether through one-to-one conversations, uninational meetings, or multi-delegation dialogues, our committed staff are providing a path away from violence toward hope.
After 21 years of developing a generation of young peacebuilders and leaders of social change, we see many alumni using their skills and networks to de-escalate conflict, protect human rights, and work for peace and justice. You can be proud of this return on your investment of time, energy and financial support – it will only grow in the years to come as our alumni move into leadership roles in their societies. We trust that the relationships we have found through Hands of Peace, with participants and other community members, will continue to thrive and sustain us in dark times.
The mission of Hands of Peace has relied on grassroots community efforts from the beginning, and has transformed lives of participants and community members alike because of families, volunteers, and hosts like you who believe in the possibilities of peace and refuse to accept the status quo as the future. We are deeply grateful for your commitment yesterday, today and tomorrow to the values that have brought us all together.
Debby Fosdick, Executive Director
Peg Lee, Board Chair
From Founder Gretchen Grad:
“Being part of Hands of Peace has been one of the most profound events of my life. It has brought into my circle…into my family, the most remarkable people. People from all walks of life. Generous, curious, determined people, willing to brave criticism and enormous odds to connect; to connect with others from diverse backgrounds, brought up with different narratives, with different scars and traumas. They are connected by a willingness to tell their own stories, to listen to one another’s and, perhaps, find the spark of humanity in each other.
While I wish Hands of Peace could continue with this important work in this way, my faith reminds me I am a resurrection person. I believe that while a body may expire, that spark…that soul merely changes form. I know all that has been created through Hands of Peace will go on. The connections, the relationships, the minds that have been shifted and hearts that have been opened will continue to radiate, echoing in thousands of lives. As one alumna said, “Hands of Peace is a purple stamp on my heart that will always be there.”
With love, hope and endless gratitude,