Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Good bye Steve Mihalis/Remembering Joe DeRaymond



The peace and justice movement needs so many farmers to till the fields, and when we lose someone the situation is tragic.  The fields remain unplowed unless others step up and replace those who pass.


Dear Friends,


I got an email from Steve Mihalis’ sister Jeanie Toth on April 13, 2010 saying that our dear brother in peace passed away at 4:20 AM.  We, the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance, send our thoughts, love, and prayers to his family.  I talked to Steve about a week ago and he said to me several times that he thought it would go fast and that would be good, so he got his wish. 


Steve’s sister said they are looking for pictures of Steve participating in actions etc. in DC to use at the memorial, so as to

remember his activism. 



Joy First


With Steve’s passing, I thought of the loss of Joe DeRaymond.  Both of these wonderful activists, who not only saw the injustice, but spoke out, will always be remembered.  Steve Mihalis presente! Joe DeRaymond presente!






2009 Center for Exhange and Solidarity

October/November 2009 Newsletter


In Memory of Joseph DeRaymond

Living Life as a Call to Action

Joe and Sarah on the first CIS delegation to La LomaWe celebrate the life of Joe DeRaymond, our dear friend and compañero, who passed away on October 1st, 2009, after a year and a half battle with a brain tumor. As many of you know, Joe was a lifelong peace and justice activist and a committed volunteer and supporter of the CIS.  Some might remember him leading the observation in a municipality in one of the last four CIS election observer missions.  Others might have read his commentary (one of many) shedding light on the struggle of the community ¨Sitio de Niño¨ in San Juan Opico, La Libertad after environmental contamination and lead poisoning of citizens, including children, from the waste of the Record Battery Company located there.  Others may have accompanied Joe on a visit to a community: La Loma, Cinquera, San Antonio or another community Joe visited often in El Salvador.  Still others might have sat with him in Spanish class here at CIS.

The fact is, through his commitment to walking with the poor majority, speaking out against injustice, and working to create a just peace, Joe has touched every corner of the CIS with his ¨It is up to us to resolutely try to hold accountable our government and corporate actors for their actions damaging humanity and the Earth…to intervene if necessary with imagination, nerve and a commitment to a nonviolent ethic that is strong in its resistance and generous in its joyful approach to struggle.¨ -Joe DeRaymondfar-reaching work.  Even after being diagnosed with a grade 4 brain tumor in April of 2008, he never gave up his commitment to accompany the struggle for peace and justice in El Salvador and elsewhere.  He continued to pursue his passion and live out his principles up until the end of his time here on earth.

Joe has volunteered for the CIS since 1997 and has been a volunteer municipal coordinator for the last four CIS election observer missions (2003, 2004, 2006 and 2009).  He has visited El Salvador and the CIS almost every year since 1997, bearing witness to the struggle of marginalized communities, writing elections and human rights bulletins, and sharing stories of El Salvador´s history and present struggle with anyone he encountered, thereby recruiting them to be involved.  

Two years ago, Joe was part of the Rutilio Grande 30 Year Anniversary Delegation with the CIS, which was the first international delegation to visit the La Loma Community in Comasagua, La Libertad.  This was a special delegation that set in motion a campaign to raise funds to build a school in the community.  Through the fundraising and donations of this group, as well as contributions from Rainbow of Hope Foundation in Canada and St. Ann Parish in Plattsburg, MO, the CIS and the Community of La Loma were able to build that school with the community and furnish it with desks and other equipment.  Joe recruited almost half of that delegation, and returned to La Loma on many occasions, building a special relationship with the community.  

On his last international tour, Joe invited Don Adrian Martinez, the president of La Loma Community to travel with him from El Salvador to Colombia to witness and dialogue with Peace Community leaders in La Unión, Colombia.  Joe was interested in exchange and solidarity not only between the privileged North and marginalized communities, but also between those same communities, to bridge the isolation that is sometimes experienced within rural communities fighting for peace and survival.

The School in La LomaThe school in La Loma is in many ways a tribute to Joe´s commitment.  The week of Joe´s passing, Don Adrian, the president of the La Loma, Leslie Schuld, the Director of CIS, and Maira Romero, a CIS grassroots organizer, proposed to the Ministry of Education that the school be named after Joe.  The morning of Joe´s death, Leslie received a call that the proposal had been approved.  The school will be named ¨Centro Escolar Joseph DeRaymond.¨   While we are all feeling Joe´s loss profoundly, we are also blessed by this good news for the community that was so dear to him, and we can´t help but feel his continuing presence and inspiration in our work.

In addition, another community that Joe visited, Comunidad Monseñor Romero in Tonacatepeque, has also decided to honor Joe by naming a street after them.  Comunidad Monseñor Romero is also a member of the CIS Network of Communities for Cooperation and Solidarity, and has fought for four years to win the rights to their land.

Joseph DeRaymond Memorial Fund for Education and Grassroots Organizing

To honor Joe´s memory, and carry on his work of international solidarity, we have created the Joseph DeRaymond Memorial Fund for Education and Grassroots Organizing.  Your donation to this fund would support several community projects as needed and on a funds-available basis:

1.   Furnishing and equipping a second classroom for ¨Centro Escolar Joseph DeRaymond¨ in Comunidad La Loma : $3,000
2.   The Ernest Remer Jenkins School for Solidarity and Social Transformation.  This year round school is developed for community organizers, scholarship students and CIS staff for leadership and skills development.   Courses include analysis and tools for social actions, including water rights, history of Central America, Conflict Resolution, social violence and its roots in El Salvador and building alternatives, free trade and its impact, environmental issues, and others: $7,500 annual budget.    
3.   Supporting the Grassroots Organizing Program of the CIS.

alt="Joe reflecting during a delegation" title="Joe reflecting during a delegation">

A board member and family of the Rainbow of Hope Foundation for Children in Canada is committed to the construction of a second classroom in La Loma.  With your help, we can make these projects possible, and sustain the work of the CIS´s Network of Communities for Cooperation and Solidarity.  Please help us honor Joe´s legacy by making a donation to the Joseph DeRaymond Memorial Fund for Education and Grassroots Organizing today!

Tax – deductible donations can be made to:

Los Olivos CIS
PO Box 76
Westmont, IL 60559

 *Please make a note that your donation is for the Joseph DeRaymond Memorial Fund.  

You can read some of Joe´s writings on El Salvador, Central America, and the U.S. and international peace movement in the Lehigh Valley Independent Press.


Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at]


"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs


No comments: