PeaceWorks: embodying the spirit and values of Conrad Grebel University College

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Nolan Andres receiving Grebel’s 2006 Distinguished Alumni Service AwardDeemed a “visionary leader” by Conrad Grebel’s Alumni Committee, Nolan Andres has received Conrad Grebel University College’s 2006 Distinguished Alumni Service Award. The award was established in 2002 to recognize former Grebel students who have, in some notable way, demonstrated the ideals and purposes of Conrad Grebel University College by making a unique contribution to the church, community, nation, or world that is significant and worthy of recognition.

Andres established PeaceWorks, a computer consulting firm, in 1995 when he was still a student at the University of Waterloo. By the time he graduated with his MMath in Computer Science and a Diploma in Peace and Conflict Studies in 1998, he already had several people working at his company. PeaceWorks currently employs a number of Grebel Alumni, including Paul Janzen, Jason Hildebrand, Matthew Wiebe, John Goerzen-Shead, and Clayton Grassick.

Working from offices both in Waterloo and Winnipeg, PeaceWorks uses a sliding fee scale, where more financially strong clients effectively subsidize those with less monetary resources but are still able to achieve considerable savings over other computer consulting alternatives. Current not-for profit clients include Mennonite Central Committee Ontario, Mennonite Church Eastern Canada, Conrad Grebel University College, Ten Thousand Villages Canada, Mennonite Economic Development Associates, Independent Living Centre of Waterloo Region, Social Planning Council of Kitchener/Waterloo, Community Justice Initiatives, and St. Monica House. Some for-profit clients are Blue North Strategies, Sutherland-Schultz, Edward R. Good Funeral Home, and Peter Etril Snyder Gallery.

There are many people dedicated to making a positive difference in this world,

states PeaceWorks’ vision statement.

Our company is dedicated to supporting and empowering their efforts by providing affordable computer solutions to the non-profit sector and to small business.

PeaceWorks further expands on their vision:

We believe that justice is better defined in terms of the things that people need. From this definition, situations like homelessness, poverty, racism, exploitation, abuse, and many others become issues of justice. This type of justice is often referred to as ‘social justice’, and it is to organizations that promote this type of justice that we dedicate our efforts.

The values of PeaceWorks, and Andres in particular, reflect core faith and social values that Grebel stands for,

wrote Grebel’s Alumni Committee in their recommendation.

Andres, along with the other members of PeaceWorks, have found a way to embody the spirit and values of Grebel in a technical world. PeaceWorks is a young company, but they have already distinguished themselves in their work and their vision to empower organizations to make the world a more just place.

The Christian values of peace, justice, discipleship and community that are at the core of Grebel's mission and purpose have been manifest in the vision and values at PeaceWorks. President Henry Paetkau and the Conrad Grebel Alumni Executive are pleased to offer this award to Andres.

Nolan Andres has found an innovative way of integrating his personal values of justice and equality with his computer science training,

said Paetkau.

Through PeaceWorks, he and his colleagues are applying these values and their skills successfully in the highly competitive business world of computer technology. Nolan is an inspiration for Grebel students who are making similar choices about how to express their faith in the workplace.

It's a truly humbling honour,

said Andres when he learned about the award.

I'm honoured to be in the company of those who have already received this award, and I'm humbled by the list of people who have not yet received it.

Andres also expressed surprise in the decision, likening it to being congratulated for running the first five or ten kilometers of a marathon.

But mostly, what it means to me is that Grebel stands with me, with my family, with PeaceWorks. In the end, we're on the same path, and I'm reassured by the fact that this award exists to emphasize these connections.

While Andres was a student, he was very active at Grebel. He was a resident for five terms between 1993 and 1995, as well as an associate the next year. After he married Margaret Massey, they served as senior residents at the college from 1996 to 1998. Sports like Co-Rec hockey, volleyball, and Ultimate Frisbee took up his days, as well as activities such as Peace Committee, Inter-College Peace Fellowship Conference Committee, and Chapel Choir. Andres also ran “the Pop Shop” for a number of terms with Tim (Miller) Dyck and donated the profits to charity.

A few of Andres’ Grebel memories include

arriving at Grebel the first time and being absolutely blown away by the standard friendly way in which new residents are welcomed to the college, the comfy futon in the Quad, ultimate frisbee on the village green, and late night chats with other residents, from the sacred to the inane.

Andres sang in the Chapel Choir for many years, and recalls

the tears in Len Enns' eyes that one time as the Chapel Choir finished a truly inspired rendition of Bruckner's ‘Locus Iste’.

He also remembers the Chapel Choir tour when he and Margaret were senior residents.

Zoe was only a few months old and came along on the tour. She was right there on stage with us as we sang - one of us would hold her in a carrier.

In addition to being busy with PeaceWorks, Andres is a proud father of 2.5 children, is an active member at Waterloo North Mennonite Church, and is a founding member of DaCapo Singers. He fills his time with “family stuff” like playing with the kids, helping with homeschooling, camping, and home renovations. When he has a spare moment, he plays hockey and Ultimate Frisbee.

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