A Christmas Story Still Worth Telling

I know the twelve days of Christmas have passed, but before Christmas I stopped over at the Route 14 Crystal Lake offices of PEACE4ALL.

It’s a non-profit domestic violence, sexual assault counseling and prevention organization for men, women and children.

When I walked in the back of the building lower level entrance at the P.E.A.C.E. 4 ALL’s North Virginia Street location, there were presents everywhere!

There were gift bags on the floor, wrapped presents stacked on tables, and even more presents along with clothing, household and food pantry items in a side room.

One woman with a passel of boys from more than ten miles away was there to pick up their family’s presents.

Women in Management members bought 240 gifts and provided 25 gift bags.

The Women’s Leadership Network provided a huge array of presents for two big families and additionally, they provided over $200 in gift cards to grocery, gas and retail stores.

The PEACE portion of their name is an acronym that stands for:

  • Prevent,
  • Educate, and
  • Advocate in our
  • Community in order to
  • End domestic violence and sexual assault.

PEACE 4 ALL believes in providing education to our all of our community members and they are available for speaking engagements for your groups or classes of adults and children.

PEACE4ALL has identified several key needs in our community and they are providing many gap-filling services that are not available through other agencies in the area.

PEACE4ALL is in the process of finishing the building of their transitional housing.

It will provide for up to an unheard of 18 month stay for clients.

There they can recover and receive the necessary counseling, job training, schooling, and ultimately, the healing they need in order for them to move forward to lead productive lives in our community.

Homelessness is a difficult situation alone, but then add the part of domestic violence on top of the homelessness and the problems are multiplied.

PEACE4ALL provides sexual assault services for persons who are ages 17 and under, which is a key population that is not being served through any other avenue in the county. Situations like date rape and the important pieces of educating our youth in these areas are what PEACE4ALL is embracing to help make a difference in the youth of our community.

In the Fall, PEACE4ALL will be opening their Children’s Center in a Trout Valley day care facility. It will specialize in providing help to children who have witnessed family violence in order to aide them in their healing and recovery.

Bobbi Allen, the new outreach person, told me that she recently introduced herself at a meeting of the Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce Newcomers meeting.

“Afterwards seven people came up,” she told me.

“The first was a victim. The other six said, ‘We want to help.'”

Marlowe Middle School in Huntley had taken on another family with seven children whose father had left the family without resources to finance Christmas presents.

I asked Cindy Smith, one of the co-founders for some statistics.

She told me prior to Christmas that 485 people had been helped in the last year, about 85% women and 15% men.

I know I met a couple of men who had been helped during this past fall’s “garage sale.”

As with all not-for-profit organizations, there is always a wish list.

PEACE4ALL is looking for

computers with Windows XP, laptops to do emergency orders of protection, compassionate people who would like to be trained as advocates, volunteers to help with event planning and in the business office, projectors, desks & chairs, office supplies (copy paper, printer ink, but you need to call for details, file folders, stamps), non-perishable goods, food and gas gift cards, food coupons, small bottles of water & juice, shampoo, deodorant, and, of course, gifts of money are always welcome and truly are needed at this time.

The newly launched website for PEACE4ALL is:

To volunteer, provide assistance or to reach PEACE4ALL with questions or to schedule a speaking engagement, please call their business office at (815) 455-2457 or you can write to them via email at: info@peace4allonline.org.

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The top two pictures are in reverse order. The client in the office picking up presents for her family was wiping tears of joy when I entered the office. She hugged Cindy Smith after looking at the presents for her family. Bobbi Allen stands in her red Christmas sweater looking at the bags of gifts for other families. At the bottom is a poster I found in another room. You can click to enlarge it to see some of what those who use PEACE4ALL’s services discuss.

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