Facilitators for the program’s moderated discussions are, from left, David Ryan Bunting, Marissa Capuzzi-Schimizzi and James Longo.

For the Peters Township Year of Kindness Committee, 2020 was supposed to be full of projects involving people helping people.

“Once the pandemic hit in March, so many of our service opportunities were postponed, and things were just sidelined,” committee member Minna Allison reported.

With the start of 2021, the group is providing an opportunity for involvement through a virtual format.

The 21-Day Racial Equity Challenge features educational reading materials, videos and questions for reflection presented on a daily basis, along with once-a-week moderated discussions, with the goal of “cultivate self-awareness and intentionality to effect social change,” according to the committee’s website.

“Looking at Peters Township, we have a really great community. It’s a caring community with generous people. But what we don’t have is a lot of diversity,” Allison said. “So we thought promoting awareness with racial literacy and some of those topics would really benefit our community.”

Based on the premise that it takes about three weeks to form a new habit, the challenge is divided into three seven-day segments, and participants start at any time and proceed at their own pace. The material will be available after the challenge’s 21 days wrap up Jan. 28.

Taking place via Zoom, the moderated discussions are scheduled for 7 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesdays, with the topics:

  • Jan. 20, “Privilege, Bias and Racism;”
  • Jan. 27, “Racial Equity Habits and Change.”

Facilitators are James Longo, past chairman of the Washington & Jefferson College Education Department; David Ryan Bunting, an instructor in the department; and Seton Hill University faculty member Marissa Capuzzi-Schimizzi.

“We feel very fortunate to have these three professors moderate and lead the discussion. They’re not going to do presentations. We want our community to talk about things that are important to them,” Allison said.

“It is a personal journey, so you can choose to not participate in the Zooms,” she continued. “But if you take the challenge and put the work in, I think that you’ll get something out of it. I think there’s something for everyone.”

She and fellow Year of Kindness Committee volunteers Maggie Cameron, Sue Deegan, Stacey Jones, Jocelyn Lynch, Amy Petro and April Ragland created the challenge.

Darrell Scott

Harry Funk/The Almanac

Darrell Scott, founder of Rachel’s Challenge, speaks at a 2018 Peters Township event.

“I worked with an amazing committee with this, and I can’t say enough about their commitment, their ethic and their attention to detail,” Allison said. “It’s evident in what you’re seeing.”

Members also are part of the Peters Township Character Counts Committee, formed in the 1990s to encourage community involvement and quality interactions among residents while promoting the attributes of respect, responsibility, caring, honesty and kindness.

In 2018, the committee partnered with Peters Township School District to host Rachel’s Challenge, an organization formed by Darrell Scott in memory of his daughter, who was the first victim of the 1999 school shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado. A primary focus of the international effort is on kindness, and Character Counts members decided to make that an area of concentration locally, as well.

For more information about the 21-Day Racial Equity Challenge, visit ptyok.org/racial-equity-challenge.

Multimedia Reporter

Staff writer Harry Funk, a professional journalist for three-plus decades, has been on the staff of The Almanac since 2015. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and master of business administration, both from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

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