The Special Peace Corps

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MISSION: To offer young adults with special needs the opportunity to become actively involved in community service and actions for social justice and peace in the spirit of President Kennedy’s Peace Corps.

SPECIAL PEACE CORPS CREED:  “When I am hungry, send me someone to feed; When I am thirsty, send me someone who needs a drink; When I am cold, send me someone to warm; When I am sad, send me someone to cheer; When I need understanding, send me someone who needs mine; When I need to be looked after, send me someone to care for; When I think only of myself, draw my thoughts to another.”

BACKGROUND: The concept of a Special Peace Corps grew out of the philosophy of The Life Experience School in Sherborn, Massachusetts in 1988. The school and its service programs have pioneered peace education for children and young adults with developmental disabilities for over 4 decades. Educating its students and members to see themselves as instruments of peace, the School developed a philosophy, structure and style of engaging young people in humanitarian work that transforms their lives and those with whom they come in contact.  These individuals aren’t your usual suspects for humanitarian work, yet their contribution is immeasurable.

SCOPE:  Beyond the given objective of a particular assignment of the Special Peace Corps – i.e. delivering donations to food pantries and homeless shelters, grooming and walking dogs at humane societies, volunteering at nursing homes, visiting shut-ins, cleaning public parks  – the involvement of people with disabilities in the national service movement carries with it a profound message of compassion, kindness and love. Their involvement in community service is capable of touching the hearts of even the most hardened and cynical.

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PROJECTS:

  • Anti-Litter Campaign
  • Provide TLC for those in local Nursing Homes
  • Clean parks and walkways in the neighborhood
  • Walk dogs at Medfield Animal Shelter
  • Deliver food to Millis Food Pantry
  • Maintaining the Pacifist Memorial in Sherborn
  • Maintaining Emily the Cow’s Animal Rights Memorial in Sherborn
  • Bread delivery to Framingham Homeless Shelter
  • Administer the use of the Stonewalk Requiem Caisson
  • Bake dog treats for Buddy’s Best Biscuits
  • Bake horse treats for student-run business
  • Care and groom school dogs
  • Grandmother Love Project
  • Rain Stick Project
  • Laundry service
  • Peace Book Project
  • Work for Peace and Social Justice
  • Bestow the Courage of Conscience Award

lamb$20in$20wreathBENEFITS: Referring school departments and the Department of Developmental Services support participation in the Life Experience Program and the Special Peace Corps. Though not appropriate for everyone, this altruistic opportunity offers a unique choice for those who come alive through service – those who have found that giving is as important as receiving.

820d486b20a924d3ffff86f2ffffe415Photo right bronze plaque honoring John Lennon at the Pacifist Memorial in Sherborn.  It is under the care and ownership of the Special Peace Corps and the Life Experience School.  In 1999, Yoko Ono assisted the Peace Abbey and Life Experience School with forty thousand dollars; a thousand dollars for each year of John’s life.  In 1992, at the 20th-anniversary celebration of the founding of LES at the Kennedy Presidential Library, Sean Lennon received the posthumous Courage of Conscience Award for his late father John Lennon.

SPECIAL PEACE CORPS SERVICE PROJECTS STRIVE TO:

  • Create enthusiasm for acts of altruism
  • Respect the inherent dignity of the individual
  • Encourage confidence and self-esteem
  • Accentuate spiritual character
  • Imbue reverence for life
  • Celebrate strengths
  • Instill sense of purpose
  • Promote a sense of belonging
  • Impart knowledge that enhances the quality of life
  • Stimulate convictions about responsible relationships
  • Nurture creativity and personal resourcefulness
  • Foster community participation
  • Produce a sense of well-being
  • Harmonize dreams with reality
  • Honor individuality
  • Ground emotions
  • Offer choices
  • Stimulate loving interaction
  • Provide opportunities for problem solving and decision-making
  • Encourage as many new, meaningful experiences as possible
  • Bring laughter, joy, and happiness into each heart
  • Affirm one’s birthright to serve as an Instrument of Peace
  • Challenge limitations in a safe and secure environment

4bb649352713b32bffff87c9ffffe417Presenting the Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience Award is one of the most significant and rewarding activities of the Special Peace Corps.  We honor individuals and organizations that have distinguished themselves for their humanitarian and peace activism as poets, educators, physicians, elected officials, journalists, actors, athletes, and soldiers.  The Courage of Conscience Award has been received by Maya Angelou, Greenpeace, Pete Seeger, Mother Teresa, Oxfam America, Army helicopter pilot Hugh Thompson, Rosa Parks, Muhammad Ali, Fr. Daniel Berrigan, the Dalai Lama, Joan Baez and many other extraordinary individuals throughout the world.

To Make Gentle the Life of the World

The Life Experience School is under the care of the Peace Abbey Foundation

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