Local Rotary Club President Oliver Morris is inviting the community to attend a ‘Peace Glow’ Saturday at Overlook Park. Participants will form a heart with blue and yellow glow sticks at sunset to raise funds for Ukraine disaster relief and promote peace. Courtesy photo
BY MAIRE O’NEILL
It has been close to 50 days since Russia invaded Ukraine. The world has watched the horrors of war, the injuries and loss of life of people of all ages, migration of millions of refugees and the unbelievable devastation in the country. During these weeks, many have wondered what it would be like to be in the position of the communities that have been affected, where they can find hope and when they can find peace.
This Saturday, April 16, brings with it a great unifying event that will allow our community to come together in the name of hope and peace. The Rotary Club of Los Alamos is holding a “Peace Glow” at 7 p.m. at Overlook Park that will both raise funds and express the community’s solidarity with the people of Ukraine as they are deal with circumstances beyond our imagination.
The Peace Glow is the brainchild of Rotary Club President Oliver Morris, Deputy Police Chief of Los Alamos County. The concept is pretty simple; Morris wants to gather 1,000 people at Overlook Park, allow them to donate $5 each for a blue or yellow glow stick, symbolizing the flag of Ukraine and then stand together on the soccer fields in the shape of a heart. Of course, people are encouraged to donate as much as they can to the cause. LAPD’s drone pilot Cpl. Sheldon Simpson will capture video and still shots of the group from the air.
“I don’t know if most people equate Rotary with peace, but actually peace is a big part of Rotary. Rotary has done disaster response for decades. Rotarians have spent a lot of time responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and last year, for example, our Club delivered sanitary and food supplies to underdeveloped areas of the Navajo Nation,” Morris said.
Because the Rotary Foundation has a foothold in the global community, it decided that any money it raises through April 30 will go to help with the disaster response in war-torn Ukraine,” Morris said.
“I thought it was important for our local Rotary Club to specifically raise funds for Ukraine, not just to alleviate all the needs that are going to be there for many years after the war with all the displaced people but also to promote peace. We don’t always talk about peace and promoting peace, but this will be a great community event where it would not just be doing a fundraiser. It will give people in the community a chance to go to the field and stand shoulder to shoulder with someone they might not even know in the name of peace,” he said.
Morris said the Rotary’s local youth group, the Rotary Interact Club at Los Alamos High School, is very excited about being a part of the event.
“Interact members are really pushing out the word to high school students who really want to be leaders in their circle of influence and are encouraging young people to stand up for peace,” he said.
“We are hoping that 1,000 people or more of all ages or more will show up between 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Sunset should be at 7:40 p.m. I’d like to see a lot of families show up to let the kids feel a part of it and that they are doing something too. We have 1,000 glow sticks and we would love to see 1,000 people there,” Morris said.
Prior to the war, there were more than 50 Rotary Clubs in Ukraine with about 1,000 members, Morris said.
“Obviously there are Rotary Clubs in the surrounding countries so when we donate this money, it’s going to go to the disaster relief grants for the millions of refugees who have left Ukraine with only what they could carry,” he said.
“It’s Easter weekend, and why not unite in the name of peace. Anything associated with light is hope and I think even though the goal is to raise money, what they need is hope. I think we need to promote peace and why not raise up some lights in the sky at night in the hope that there will be peace soon,” Morris said.