The accomplishments of the January Cohort were celebrated in a ceremony on Friday, February 11, 2022 at the Nonviolence Institute. On hand for congratulations were NVI staff and friends, as well as Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza.
"I’ve got to tell you Cedric, I’m so happy. I got to listen to some of the testimonials and what I heard from you, the maturity and the deep commitment to your community … that’s exactly what Cedric said he wanted to accomplish and that’s exactly what we want to support and so I’m so glad that I am here."
- Major Elorza
Members of the Cohort shared their experiences about the Principles and Steps of Nonviolence and how they pertained to their lives, while also acknowledging the ongoing efforts needed to stay on track and expand the reach of the program:
"When I was growing up and in the streets everyone tells you ... be nonviolent, but there was never things to teach you way to do that. If we can get more kids into stuff like this then a lot of issues can be averted by knowing the tools they can utilize."
"People think of nonviolence as a gang thing, but I'm not involved with gangs. I had a domestic issue and if I knew the things I learned in this program my incident probably wouldn't have happened."
"That very first day, when we came in and were asking questions ... I saw how deep this was about to get and I really locked in and really started taking it seriously."
"This program is a mind-opener ... a good two weeks I've been focused on my values, how to make my life better. I just want to thank everyone in the program that taught me that I can be someone."
"I have five people who are willing to change and I just need you guys to make it possible."
A Continuum of Support
The components of the Beloved Community were on full display at this celebration, with NVI staff and friends praising the accomplishments of the Cohort and encouraging ongoing support as they continue to practice Nonviolence:
"You asked some real significant questions and you looked into yourselves. The growth is in the change … when you decide that you want to just make a difference, you want to move in that direction, we don’t expect perfection, but if you’re working and practicing it on a daily basis, if you’re thinking differently, if your mind set is flowing in a different way, then things are going to happen." - Cedric Huntley, NVI Executive Director
"Know that Mr. Boo is on deck forever. I always take it upon myself … I’m gonna get on your nerves before I get off the mission. I can’t wait to see you out there, handling your business and making yourself proud of yourself." - Boo Hackney, NVI Board Member
"We are your companions, we are your allies. Whether you have a relationship with me, with Juan, with Mr. Cedric, an outreach worker, know that this place is here for you. This is a place where you can come and practice, and debrief and talk to people, and figure things out with no judgement … just a Beloved Bommunity."
- Sal Monteiro, Senior Nonviolence Facilitator
"You all showed up, you shared, you made yourself vulnerable, we’ve all shared what we were thinking about, what we’ve learned, what we’re wrestling with, and that takes a lot of strength. I want to recognize that strength and appreciate it in each one of you in the different ways you all did. I want to make sure you all know that we are a community where you can keep practicing and working alongside all of us."
- Christine King, SEED Facilitator, Interfaith Counseling Center
"This graduation today might seem something small, just the Institute, that place on Oxford Street, but please see it as a seed that has been planted and will continue to grow. We want to be here for you, every step - the good, the bad, the happy, the sad – I didn’t mean to rhyme, but you know."
- Lisa Pina-Warren, Director of Intervention Services
"This is Just the Start"
The SEED program is an important part of Mayor Elorza's three-pronged strategy to address the root causes of rising gun violence in Providence. After hearing the Cohort speak about the positive experiences in this two-week program, Mayor Elorza is on board:
"This is just the start ... this is something we want to do a lot more of and from the testimonies that I’ve heard in the short time that I’ve been here, if that’s any indication of the power of this program then I’ll tell you that I am sold and we want to invest in this a lot more going forward. So congratulations and I look forward to continuing doing this work with you."
- Major Jorge Elorza
Funding for this program is being provided by the ARPA City of Providence Anti-Violence Investment.