Voices of CeaseFire: Keeping on Course
Jorge Roque success story
as told to Emily Wachowiak (Groupon staff writer)
With the help of Jorge Roque, a CeaseFire Violence Interrupter in Chicago’s Little Village, Daniel Ponce* was able to turn his life around at the age of 16. According to Jorge, Daniel “was involved with the streets, and he struggled through grammar school into high school.” However, by sophomore year, “he started thinking about changing his ways.” Defying the expectations of others, and even himself, Daniel graduated high school, found a job, and even “detached himself from the gang.”
As Jorge puts it, “We would say that he left that lifestyle alone.”
But after a few years on the right path, an unimaginable tragedy struck. In May 2012, a gang-related car chase left Daniel’s cousin, sister, brother, and his brother’s girlfriend dead. “[Daniel] could have said, ‘That could put me back on the streets, or even [cause me to] retaliate.’” Instead, Jorge says, “He’s been able to stay away. He’s been dealing with his pain [but] not in a violent way. […] We’ve been able to work with him through everything he’s been through.” After his loss, Daniel attended weekly “peace/healing circles” and worked closely with his mentor, Jorge.
Jorge himself began mediating violence at the age of 17, and he now sees Daniel following in his own footsteps.
“He’s trying to see how he can get involved in what we’re doing [at CeaseFire], so maybe in the future he can do what I’m doing.” Jorge knows that helping youth like Daniel is the best way to ensure the future of the Cure Violence mission: “Hopefully we are able to start developing our new outreach workers, youth workers, [and] violence interrupters.”
*Name has been changed
Photos credited to RMK Photography