- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 27, 2002

Thousands of young people from across the United States came together at the District's MCI Center last night to celebrate the efforts of more than 300 youths who have spent the summer volunteering in metropolitan Washington service projects and to promote unity.

The youths had donated their time and effort for projects like park beautification, building restoration, gardening, character education, conflict resolution, and at day camps. Young people who participated in the "Service for Peace: True Love in Action" program aspired to volunteer more than 100 hours of service in order to receive the president's gold Student Service Award.

Miwa Peemoeller, 17, from Virginia Beach, said her project has been cleaning storefront windows and she also has been working at soup kitchens like So Others Might Eat.

"We're here to get everybody together and break down the barriers, create a new culture and spread the vision of peace," she said.

Last night's program was sponsored by the Unification Church and keynote speaker Hyun Jin Moon who founded the program to foster constructive community relationships regardless of racial, national and religious differences.

"You have to change the hearts of men. And how do you change the hearts of men? True love shall set us free," Mr. Moon told the young people.

"The way we win the war against hatred is by living for the sake of others," he said.

Lianne Wilson, 15, of Red Hook, N.Y., said, "We're trying to turn the world into one big family because that's the way it essentially is. We need to treat each other like brothers and sisters by breaking down religious barriers and racial barriers, and by uniting the world into one."

Misun Longo,14, from Baltimore, was influenced to attend last night's service in part because of bad conditions in Baltimore City. She has been contributing her time to Police Athletic Leagues.

Misun and about 700 colleagues have been meeting with church groups and talking with pastors. "A lot of them really see our vision," she said.

Hanna Nilson, 15, of Bridgeport, Conn., is proud of what she accomplished. "One of the things I learned is how to talk to people because of the experience and having the opportunity to go out there and do good stuff for the community."

Mapolo Buessing, 17, from Concord, N.H., said he was looking forward to the speech from the keynote speaker. "He's going to try to inspire all the people to come out and serve for peace."

A representative of D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams read a proclamation stating that volunteerism "touched the hearts of thousands in the District," and declaring July 26 as "Service for Peace Day" in Washington.

Gospel recording artists Trin-I-Tee 5:7 and a 2,000-voice interfaith choir entertained at last night's event.

"The Service for Peace is less than a year old, but is poised to make a significant contribution to building a 'culture of peace' through a unique blend of service and the healing of the global family," Robert S. Kittell, secretary-general wrote in a letter of invitation.


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