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Peace It Together to honor Western Pennsylvania leaders

| Friday, March 1, 2013, 4:51 a.m.
Meeting to discuss plans for the upcoming Peace It Together event, from left, are Highmark senior community affairs specialist Mark Jones, First Commonwealth Bank regional manager and vice president Rita Schell, Deputy District Attorney and Center for Victims board member Mark Tranquilli, Keynote Cafe owner Jill Urbani Sorrels and MAD DADS Pittsburgh president George Spencer. Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
Center for Victims community engagement specialist Molly Burke gives Everything is Fine program director Renee Rock of Prime Stage a sneak peak at the Peace It Togehter awards. Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News

The Center for Victims will celebrate peace and peacemakers in the Greater Pittsburgh area with an awards ceremony.

The eighth annual Peace It Together event is planned for March 13 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Le Mont restaurant on Mt. Washington.

The Center for Victims will recognize individuals and organizations that are committed to resolving conflict, restoring relationships and building peaceful communities.

The program includes heavy hors d'oeuvres, entertainment, a photo booth and the start of a community art peace quilt.

“It seems that inexplicable violence has become a weekly occurrence,” Center for Victims president and CEO Laurie MacDonald said.

“In fulfillment of our mission, Peace it Together gives us an opportunity to envision a more peaceful world and recognize those who selflessly take the initiative to bring peace to our communities,” she said.

The 2013 Peace Partner awardees are Deputy District Attorney Laura Ditka, nonprofit organization Project to End Human Trafficking, grassroots organization MAD DADS, the Teen Board of Prime Stage Theater and the Keystone Cafe in Jeannette.

“All of these people are working to prevent violence from happening,” Center for Victims community engagement specialist Molly Burke said. “They are our partners in creating and keeping peaceful communities.”

Lynn Griffin and Patricia McGrail, co-chairs of the Center for Victims board of directors, said Peace It Together is a tribute to those who aspire to make Greater Pittsburgh communities better places to live and work. They said the actions of recognized peace partners “prove their humanity” by securing better, safer and more rewarding lives for everyone in a community.

Deputy District Attorney Mark Tranquilli, who serves on the Center for Victims board, said the atmosphere in Allegheny County and across the nation is one of increasing violence.

“We've seen a lot of acts of mass violence and violence on an individual level,” he said. “It can even be cultural violence, because many people define violence as someone trying to exert their will on someone else.”

Tranquilli said the Peace It Together event is powerful, “because we as a society need to send a message that we don't condone that behavior.”

While part of the solution involves law enforcement and court systems to stop incidents that escalate to criminal behavior, he said another puzzle piece is establishing dialogue and teaching conflict resolution before situations escalate.

The Center for Victims is the largest victim assistance organization in Allegheny County. Its mission is, “Healing trauma, supporting victims and creating social change for a more peaceful community.”

The 2013 Peace It Together event is supported by platinum sponsors Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield and Allegheny County District Attorney's Office, along with other sponsors including Cochrane Foundation, HearBest Inc., Gregori Construction, Dollar Bank, MaherDuessel, Bender Consulting, Buchanan Ingersoll and Rooney, First Commonwealth Bank and the Falk Foundation.

Comcast and Whirl are media sponsors.

Jennifer R. Vertullo is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1956, or