Deepening Roots and Growing Stronger!

Every January brings an opportunity to reflect on what we accomplished last year as we set goals/objectives for the next 12 months. I spend time analyzing Peace’s fiscal year-end numbers to build a budget for the next year. It’s always seemed like a function of fiscal responsibility, but over time I have evolved to think about it differently.

You see, having grown up at Peace and served this organization for over 46 years, you begin to see these annual transitions in a different light, more holistically. 

I can’t help but think about where Peace started, how far we’ve come as an agency, and where we’re headed. When I look back to Peace’s humble beginnings in1971 when a diverse group of neighbors sought to create a new community center that could bring about change for new residents on Ann Arbor's West side to where we are today, I can't help but reflect on how far we've come. Wow.

Every year brings its own challenges with opportunities for new learning and growth that builds upon our organization’s experience, extending and deepening our agengy's impact. Just the way a tree grows—deepening our roots, growing concentric circles outward, and extending our limbs and reach. Generational growth that has extended and deepened our agency’s impactnot just for the people we serve, but also for our wider community.

Those initial seeds planted years ago, have been watered and nurtured—with new seeds planted to respond to our community’s changing needs. To help each person and family who walks through our doors grow along their own path to greatness.

For over 53 years, Peace has been expanding the agency’s reach and our ability to offer more in-depth support for our kids and families with each new initiative and investment we make. Peace has been continually growing and learning—from fine-tuning our youth programs to include age-specific programming for middle school youth and college & career prep for high school students to family enrichment, in-depth case management, and more recently, the Wellness Center program.

Where are we going? We’re poised for even greater growth as we look to launch a new HUB Community Resource Center in Ypsilanti Township—and build new community partnerships to bring about change for our wider community. An exciting opportunity for Peace to expand our footprint and reach.

We look forward to where we have yet to go. With all that we have planted, watered, nurtured and seen bear fruit along the way, this latest growth should prove to be some of the most rewarding yet.

Thank you, Peace Family, for all you have done and continue to do to support our growth, and help this colorful tree grow bigger and get stronger!

With Gratitude,

Bonnie Billups, Jr.

Executive Director

Investments in new staff to help Peace grow!

As we spend January reflecting on where we’ve been and all that we accomplished in 2023, we’re looking ahead to 2024 and where we are going. Please join us in welcoming the three newest members of the Peace Neighborhood Center staff! All three look to help build upon Peace’s roots and help the organization grow in 2024.


Middle School Program Manager

Adriana is one of two new Program Managers who help to plan and coordinate after-school and summer activities for Peace’s middle school youth programs. Adriana first joined Peace in June, 2023 working in Peace’s Leadership Development Camp last summer. She then shifted her focus at the start of the school year to help lead Peace’s Alternatives for Youth (AY) after school program. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University in Human Development and Family Studies. 

"Working with Peace’s middle schoolers has been both challenging and very rewarding. Starting last summer, it took a little while to really start to develop relationships with the kids, but when we went on trips we were able to get into smaller groups and really start to form those bonds. As the school year has progressed, it has been nice to watch those bonds develop and I look forward to all we have planned this coming spring and summer.”


Middle School Programs Manager

MacKenzie also started last June, alongside Adriana, to help lead Peace’s Leadership Development Camp. During the school year, she works closely with Adriana to support Peace’s middle school students as part of the Alternatives for Youth After-School Program. MacKenzie holds a Bachelor’s of Social Work degree from Eastern Michigan University and brings to Peace her previous experience working with one of Peace’s closest partner organizations, Girls Group.

“I am very grateful for the job I get to do here. Peace is truly a place I enjoy. Last summer was a little difficult as we dove into leading programs and had to get to know the students in a bit of a hurry. Over the course of the fall and now into winter, there have been more opportunities to really focus on the social-emotional component [of our programming] with the kids in programs. Behavior is always going to be the biggest challenge. But as our relationships deepen, the kids get more relaxed and sillier and it just makes for a great environment to have deeper, more meaningful conversations about healthy habits, true self-care and the topic of empowerment. We are looking forward to Leadership Development Camp this coming we build on the relationships we have formed over the past year.”

As Middle School Youth Program Managers, both Adriana and MacKenzie work closely with Peace middle school youth to assess and support each student’s academic and social/emotional needs. They help develop and implement Peace’s social/emotional learning curriculum for two support groups: Rising Sons for middle school boys and STARS for middle school girls. They also serve as liaisons to the three middle schools Peace youth attend to identify any issues and/or additional support students need. And they regularly interface with Peace’s entire Youth Programs Staff and Case Managers as part of the wraparound support Peace provides for our youth and families.


Director’s Administrative Assistant

In January, Peace welcomed DiOnna Jordan to our team as the Director’s Administrative Assistant, a new role that's been sorely needed. Familiar with Peace from a very young age, DiOnna is excited to be supporting the Executive Director and the Development Team with a number of projects and initiatives to help Peace reach its goals.

An Ann Arbor native born and raised, DiOnna graduated from Pioneer High School and holds a Bachelor’s in Communications from Michigan State University. As a high school student, she was one of the founding members of the Neutral Zone and served on the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation's Youth Council. DiOnna brings a wealth of administrative and project management experience. Prior to joining Peace, she worked at Michigan Medicine for 14 years in the Otorhinolaryngology Department in different roles including Front-End Clinic Manager and Patient Relations Department Specialist.

“I am very happy to be a part of the efforts here at Peace. There really is no other agency that does the diverse number of things that Peace does. It hasn’t changed over the years, it just continues to grow. Seeing first-hand the lives that it touches, like with the recent holiday assistance program, it’s like, wow. Helping people like this is the ideal goal. I look forward to watching Peace continue to grow, especially with the opening of the HUB Center this year. It’s exciting to think about Peace [expanding] in order to help all of those who need us.”

Volunteer Spotlight

Over the last several months, one Peace volunteer has really stepped up to help Peace in a number of areas. Last summer, Jason Given sat down at his computer with the idea of giving back to his community. After a quick Google search for volunteer opportunities in Washtenaw County, he found Peace Neighborhood Center’s website and the sign-up sheet to volunteer in Peace’s Friday Food Distribution in partnership with Food Gatherers. Each week, a small army of dedicated volunteers transforms a space at Peace into a small food pantry, where 40-60 local families “shop” for fresh produce, breads, and other nutritional items to supplement their weekly groceries—a vital service that helps address food insecurity in our community. 

Jason fit right in with the volunteers, and began to learn more about all Peace does to support youth and families. After a few weeks, Jason started volunteering in Peace’s Youth Programs. With a background in Humanities, he gravitated toward helping the older students and has helped middle school students with homework and offered special tutoring sessions for high school students in Peace’s College & Career Prep program. Over the course of the Fall Semester, Jason became very involved in both programs and has developed important relationships with the students he tutored.

In addition to tutoring in two programs and continuing to sort produce every Friday, Jason also volunteered in Peace’s Holiday Toy Drive distribution in December—helping to organize and stock items for the over 300 families who were served by that program. We are truly grateful for all of Jason’s efforts to help Peace youth and families—as well as the efforts of over 100+ volunteers who provide vital support for Peace students every semester.

Jason doing his best pineapple showcase at Friday Food Distribution

"Peace is an amazing organization touching the lives of a lot of people in our community, especially young people. They are capable of so much; they just need the right assistance and support. It’s been nice to be a part of that and hit it off with the kids.”

Thank you, Jason and all of our volunteers!

We are grateful to you for investing your time, energy and gifts in Peace Neighborhood Center. With your continuing support, we can continue to nurture the seeds we've planted and help people change the trajectory of their lives.

Peace Neighborhood Center | 1111 N. Maple Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48103
Phone: (734) 662-3564 | Fax: (734) 662-8589 |
Facebook  Twitter  Instagram