Their currency is the lived experience of personal trauma, prison and the hard, tedious work it takes to get one's life back on track, combined with deep connections to Madison's African American community.

And it's what allows the peer support specialists for the Focused Interruption Coalition passage into some of the Madison area's most harrowing scenes.

In the immediate aftermath of a shooting, they may show up at the site or, more likely, a hospital to comfort and calm family and friends in moments of anger and grief.

But the work doesn't end there. For weeks and sometimes months after tragedy strikes, they continue working with victims and their families to tamp down the fire of revenge, help them find housing and jobs, navigate the court system or return home after incarceration.

Through it, they share their own life stories of poverty, family dysfunction, involvement with drugs, violence and incarceration, along with personal rebirth.

Because of their deep community roots, they frequently are familiar with both perpetrators and victims of violence, often seeing connections — and solutions — the police can't.

The Wisconsin State Journal asked three of these individuals to share their personal stories of struggle and change.

He met Rev. Alex Gee of Fountain of Life church on the South Side, accepted an invitation to attend services, and was moved by Gee's first sermon.