By Julie Ferraro
High temperatures and a threat of rain did not dampen the enthusiasm of the crowd which gathered at Clinton Community College on Sept. 19 for the 14th annual Stop the Hate/Share the Love Walk.
On the school’s walls, brightly colored posters — created by elementary students from Prince of Peace and the Clinton Community School District — called for peace, love and an end to violence, based on the theme “Peace begins with…” Other children drew their own posters at the event, had their face painted by Mona Redman of the Felix Adler Children’s Discovery Center in Clinton, or listened to stories read by Roberta Churchill, a retired teacher from Clinton.
Among the participants were Sisters Anne Martin Phelan, Marilyn Shea, Kathleen Holland and Mary Ann Phelan of the Sisters of St. Francis, Clinton. The Sisters are part of the Clinton Peace Coalition, which sponsors the event. Other members of the Coalition are the Prince of Peace Schools, YWCA-Clinton, and the Unity Center of Clinton, along with Clinton Community College and Ashford University.
Shauna Rollins of Clinton brought her daughters, Stephanie, 5, and Joanie, 9 to the gathering. Shauna explained that Joanie is part of the Diversity Club at Eagle Heights Elementary School. She is glad the club teaches the children “about differences in people, the need to stop bullying and to promote peace.” Shauna added, “I try to instill those values in my children.”
Many members of the Diversity Club attended the Stop the Hate/Share the Love Walk. Eagle Heights school counselor Lavina Engle-Reed noted, “It’s important for them to understand what peace is.” She’s noticed the 47 members of the club “want a voice. They want to be heard.” Engle-Reed was also impressed that the students came with their parents.
While the formal walking portion of the event was canceled, those in attendance were given the option of walking through the neighborhood near the college, or in the building itself, after brief ceremonies indoors.
Karen Vickers, president of Clinton Community College, told those assembled, “We do belong to each other. Peace begins with each one of us.”
The ceremony featured a special tribute to Sallyann McCarthy, longtime director of communications for the Sisters of St. Francis, who helped organize the Stop the Hate/Share the Love Walk for many years. Sallyann passed away Aug. 7 after a prolonged illness.
Mardell Mommsen, chair of the Clinton Peace Coalition, admitted having a difficult time not being emotional during her presentation. She praised Sallyann: “She’s been a very devoted member of the community, promoting peace.”
As part of the tribute, a miniature Peace Pole, autographed by the Clinton Peace Coalition committee members and similar to those given by the Clinton Peace Coalition to each school in the area, was presented to Sallyann’s husband, Bob McCarthy. The pole reads, “May Peace Prevail on Earth” in four languages.
The presentations concluded with Marion Johnson of Clinton releasing four tagged monarch butterflies. Explaining that the creatures would eventually fly to Mexico, she delicately presented the butterflies to the children, who marveled at them as they flew away.