If you head down Grider Street across from ECMC in Buffalo, you might notice a sign, white and blue in the shape of a dove, that serves as a reminder of the realities of life for many in the city.
- Peaceprints of WNY tracks the number of days between homicides in the city
- The organization helps men transition from prison back into society
- Its founder dedicated her life to promoting peace in Buffalo
"The sign tracks how many days it's been since the last homicide in Buffalo, so how many days of peace we've had," said Isabel Shapiro.
Each day, Shapiro checks the news and updates the sign. Currently, it indicates three days have passed since the last homicide in Buffalo. Police say there have been 18 homicides in 2019, compared to 26 on this date last year.
"This is the number of days that there hasn't been any violence, I think is an important counter-balance to all the news stories about the latest or the latest violent act," she said.
Shapiro is the program manager at the Bissonette House, dedicated to its late founder, Sister Karen Klimczak.
"Her mission in life was to promote a more non-violent Buffalo and to promote peace," Shapiro said.
The dove is a symbol of peace, and Peaceprints of Western New York, which operates the house. It's is a place for men who've been in state prison who are trying to fit back into society — men like Eddie Henley.
"I was facing three-and-a-half to 15 [years] on a weapons charge," Henley said.
Henley spent three years in prison before he got out in May. He's been staying at the Bissonette House for about six weeks. The 120-day program helps men transitioning into life outside of a cell with things like housing, jobs, education and health care — all part of Henley's new goals.
"No drug use. No alcohol. A job. Providing for my son," said Henley, the father of a 10-year-old.
As Henley turns away from crime, Peaceprints is helping him find a better way.
"Violence is not tolerated in society. You get incarcerated. I know that firsthand," Henley said. "You can come here and not have to worry about violence."
For Shapiro, the sign in front of the Bissonette House signifies all the work they do and the men they help become positive parts of the city.
"That number represents the state of our community, and that one person's act affects all of us," she said.