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How We Came to Be:

On April 20, 2018, the day before Cindy Grimes immersed herself in a community peacebuilder training at the River Phoenix Center for Peacebuilding, a young man took a loaded shotgun into the high school he had once attended, discharging the weapon and injuring one student. Thankfully the student was not seriously harmed and the situation was quickly contained by school staff and law enforcement officers with minimal damage. This was the high school Cindy’s children had attended, in the same community where her grandchildren are now being raised. This scenario has played out with tragic results in too many schools across our nation. As the daughter, wife and mother of law enforcement officers, Cindy is intimately familiar with the fear and that comes with knowing loved ones may be subjected to danger or harm at any time.  This incident brought home the reality of our collective vulnerability to the life-changing effects of violence and the devastation that can descend on a community in an instant.

After that week-long immersion training, Cindy returned to Ocala armed with new understanding, practical tools, inspiration and a vision for a community-based peacebuilding initiative. She gathered a group of friends and community leaders to discuss the possibilities for creating a peacebuilding center in Ocala. The result is Circle Up Center for Practical Peacebuilding.