Steve Martineau
Steve Martineau campaign supporter

Friends Forever Founder Bob Raiche-Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize (Portsmouth Herald)

The founder of Friends Forever, a locally based nonprofit that specializes in building relationships among international students, was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, the organization announced Wednesday.

Bob Raiche, of Danvers, Mass., was nominated by a congressional leader of that state for his role in founding Friends Forever.

But while Raiche was nominated for the coveted award, he was not ultimately selected as its winner. The Nobel Committee awarded The European Union with the prize on Oct. 12 for its decades of work dedicated to reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe, and for its advancement of peace.

Steve Martineau, executive director of Friends Forever, said because the Nobel Committee's process is very "hush, hush," he was not able to reveal to anyone that Raiche had been nominated.

"You're not allowed to publicize it at all," he said.

While Raiche may not have received the award, Martineau said the fact he was even nominated is a tremendous honor.

"It is great to recognize the impact that Bob has had on generations of youth around the world," Martineau said.

Martineau said despite his years of work, the odds were stacked against Raiche from the beginning.

"When you're going up against the European Union, what chance do you really have there?" he said.

Based in Portsmouth, Friends Forever's mission over the years has been to promote trust, empathy and friendships among cultures in conflict by working with international and local youth leaders.

Raiche started the program in 1986 after reading newspaper articles covering the conflict in Northern Ireland. His discoveries led him to develop the innovative Life Raft Formula because, according to Raiche, "If you really want to know someone, take the seat next to him or her in a life raft."

The formula became the foundation for Friends Forever's work.

The first-ever Friends Forever group was composed of five Catholic and five Protestant young men from Northern Ireland, who traveled to the Seacoast in fall 1986. The organization has since expanded to Israel to work with Arab and Jewish youth.

These days, Raiche continues to serve the organization as a visionary member of its board of directors, as well as through volunteering with the students on a regular basis.

Martineau said, while the nomination was for Raiche, the entire organization should be proud.

"It's really everyone who has been involved with Friends Forever over the last 26 years that is deserving of this nomination," Martineau said.

to comment