New directions ahead for Peaceholics co-founders
Changes are underway at the Peaceaholics, a community-based organization designed to reach out to teens involved in street crew activity.
Ron Moten, one of the group's co-founders and one of the most visible front men working to stop youth violence on D.C. streets, is bringing his five-year run as the organization's day-to-day leader to an end Wednesday night.
And the other co-founder, Juahar Abraham, will also be stepping aside in a few months.
Moten has criss-crossed the city as a mediator of gang "beefs" and a speaker at D.C. Council hearings and an advocate for the city's youth and ex-offenders. He has garnered millions of dollars in city contracts to address youth violence.
Hee is scheduled to step down from day-to-day operations of the Peaceholics, after which he plans to "transition" to a new life centered on a new non-profit and two for-profit ventures, building on what he has learned from the streets and the political sphere. HIs formal annoucement will be made at a reception at Hogates on the Waterfront in Southwest Washington.
"We’ve reached a lot of young people and families... We’ve created a model and now it’s time for the government to use it," Moten said in an telephone interview.
His new plans are centered around creating two new businesses -- The Other Side Media, Inc and Returning Citizens Group, LLC.
The former will be a marketing and promotions company, in which he will employ about 20 young people who worked with the Peaceholics "street commission." The street commisioners were trained by the Peaceholics as peer mediators, who Moten said need the opportunity to earn a living off the street.
The company will feature event promotions, training in data collection for academic studies and an online magazine, named "The Other Side."
Returning Citizens Group will focus on the high unemployment rate in the city through lobbying efforts and working with ex-offenders and others in the community. Moten will team with with Rodney Mitchell, former director of the Office of Ex-offender Affairs.
His final new venture is a non-profit organization named DMV Peace Authority (DMV represents District, Maryland and Virginia) that will focus on creating a model neighborhood and civic associations can use to tackle crime problems in their community. The goal is to teach groups how to lobby their elected representatives, organize community events, or convince drug dealers to leave street corners before the police have to be called.
He will partner with Rev. Tony Lee, from Community of Hope AME church.
Moten said he wants to use hard-learned lessons from his Peaceoholic days to tackle his new plans and pass along what he considers his models of success and how to handle negative problems that arise.
The Peaceoholics faced several controversial issues during Moten's tenure this year, including a the sexual assault conviction of an ex-offender who worked as a counselor for the group. The organization also was at the center of a D.C. Council probe into a controversial donation of a 10-year-old fire truck and an ambulance to the Peaceoholics from the city, which in turn was to be shipped to Dominican Republic town.
The donations were stopped after the council's inquiry.
Moten said both cases left him with the understanding that "the politics in D.C. are vicious."
Still, he said he's proud of the Peaceoholics accomplishments thus far, including helping 120 students reach college after turning their back on hanging with street crews. He also said they held hundreds of mediations between crews in city schools and on the street, which he believes have played a role in the city's reduction in homicides so far this year.
Moten said he will remain on the board of the Peaceoholics, but will no longer receive a paycheck from the group.
Abraham, will continue leading the organization when Moten steps down. But he, too, is visualizing changes.
He plans to stay on with the Peaceaholics for at least six months, overseeing the transition from the co-founders to a handful of youth who have gone thorugh their program and then graduated from college.
"We're passing the torch to the next generation," said Abraham, who also intends to remain on the board of the peaceaholics after stepping aside.
As for his plans, he is considering ways to address government policy surrouding youth issues, including a possible run for political office.
"At some point, I have to get off the battlefield and get into the room where the policies are being decided and legislated," Abraham said.
Both men feel good about their accomplishments with the group.
"When we started this, we knew we wouldn't have any permanent friends or permanent enemies," said Abraham. "We have mastered a way to curb juvenile violence and crime in our city."
"It’s hasn't been perfect, but it’s better than what it was. We’ve been called all over the country to learn how to do what we do." Moten said. "At the end of the day I feel great."
-- Clarence Williams
December 2, 2009; 1:53 PM ET
Categories: Clarence Williams , The District
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