Feel free to click and expand the map I made in minutes this afternoon, using the Online Program Locator (although, admittedly, I did use Photoshop to put the numbers on the map... we're looking for sponsorship and donations to improve functionality of this free, not-for-profit community tool. Email me with leads.).
Those numbers on the map represent the three West Side crimes, as reported by The Chicago Breaking News Center earlier today:
- Kevin Simms, 18 "found shot several times on a West Side sidewalk Friday evening," in the Austin neighborhood on Chicago's West Side.
- A 13-year-old was shot in the knee, and 18-year-old Daniel Crockett was shot dead in Lawndale/Garfield Park. The "teens were walking on the sidewalk when a dark-colored vehicle drove up, a person got out and fired shots at them."
- "A 22-year-old male was shot in the leg" and 19-year-old Timothy McCampbell was found dead when "police responded to shots fired" in the Humboldt Park neighborhood.
Each tragic. But the "rest of the story" has hope. See, others like YOU and me are volunteering and donating to mentor programs (represented by those green stars on the map). These programs work with young kids in high-poverty/high-crime neighborhoods, and prepare them to choose a path toward a healthy future - school, career, responsibility, self advocacy, and participation in community... versus the streets, gangs, and violence.
I know what some of you are thinking... "There aren't enough programs to serve all the young kids," and "even if I give a few bucks and a few hours, how can I, alone, put a dent in crime- and social-related tax burdens? How can I contribute to workforce development? How can I help reduce the drop-out rate? How can I make sure all our neighbors in the future are equipped to be hard-working responsible parents that demand safe and productive local communities?"...
... and "Isn't this their parents' jobs!?"
Well, a lot of kids clearly don't have adults in their lives putting them on a path to a safe and secure future, like you may have had. It's your community, your safety, and your economy/taxes. The reality is that you can do something proactive instead of waiting for the school system, "their parents," or someone else to suddenly "do a better job" taking care of you.
Yet I agree - it is nearly impossible for you or I to make a difference alone. Fortunately we all know people who care!
Use the worksheet above to organize your network and find people who also understand this dilemma, and want to do something proactive about it. Direct them to the Tutor/Mentor Connections to learn more!
Together, we can create a movement of caring people with the resources to volunteer, sponsor, nurture youth through mentorship today, so that we all live in safer and more prosperous times together, down the road.