Hi, I’m Alexis Warner, I’m 21 next week, and I’m from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. When I’m not doing my peacemaking work, I am gardening or doing pottery. I absolutely love Audrey Hepburn because she really encompassed this, like, idea of what a woman could be, especially like, in the late 50s – early 60s. And she didn’t have any questions about it, and she didn’t care what anyone thought, and she did it with a lot of poise and elegance.
The injustice that I’m addressing is poverty and mental illness within the veteran population and their families. So, I think that everyone has a story that shapes their path and, mine started at 15. My stepdad got home from Afghanistan with really severe post-traumatic stress and, at the time we didn’t understand what was going on, we just knew that something wasn’t right. So at 15 I started this organization called Seeds of Hope, and our mission was to create gardens for veterans. So, I couldn’t necessarily change my situation at home, but I could change the situation for other veterans in a small way. And that was their food, the universal language.
So, in developing my idea I kind of developed myself. I found what I was good at; I’m a connector and I realized that through my work. So now we’re expanding the gardens to 15 States, we’re producing over 3000 pounds over 3 years.
So I can create peace for Veterans themselves, or give them some sense of community, and an empathetic and understanding community that wants to help them and doesn’t just want to say “welcome”, you know. They don’t want you to say “thank you for your services”, they want us to say “welcome home, and what can I help you with”. This group needs to have people understand what they’re going through without probing for information out of curiosity.
So, again, these partnerships with adults working with teens, mentoring even for a few days, or, you know, a few hours, have been such a key proponent of the success and the failures of our work.