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Benefit Planning Committee Rich Katz, Barbara Breakstone, Raleigh Sawyer, Ginny Hotaling, Julie Orr (Co-chair), Silvia Schneider Fox (Co-chair), Lori Kaskowitz-Kenward. Photo by Alex Hensel

Benefit at Chicago Botanic Garden raises $135,000 to help Hands of Peace continue empowering Middle Eastern and American teens to raise their voices and work for peace.

At its annual Benefit on Sunday, April 7, at Chicago Botanic Garden, Hands of Peace alumni told moving stories of how the program has transformed their lives and helped them raise their voices as leaders of change. About 230 supporters were riveted by how the Hands of Peace Summer Program helped them overcome stereotypes and learn leadership skills that continue to shape their peace building journeys today. The program has resulted in 600 alumni living and working for peace across the U.S., in the Middle East and throughout the world.

The Seasons of HOPE Benefit raised $135,000 to help Hands of Peace continue to grow its teen leadership program, which brings American and Middle Eastern high school students together for three weeks each summer in the Chicago and San Diego areas. Many of the Israeli and Palestinian participants come from areas deeply divided by conflict and violence, yet they forge a connection and find common ground through the Summer Program. This transformation evolves throughout the three weeks of dialogue sessions, education activities, community organizing workshops and team-building outings. Funds raised at the Benefit also support programs that help Hands of Peace alumni grow as peace leaders following the Summer Program, through alumni club activities and leadership programs that enable participants to implement community projects in their hometowns.

The 2019 Summer Program will take place July 10-29, with the Farewell Celebration on Sunday, July 28, at Glenbrook South High School in Glenview.