Spring Break Safe Haven for Chicago Area Youth
Spring Break Safe Haven for Area YouthOver the past few months, our personal injury firm has become a fan of the Chicago Police Department’s CAPS program. CAPS, (which stands for “Community Alternative Policing Strategy”) seeks to bring the community and other agencies together to identify and solve neighborhood crime problems, rather than simply react to their symptoms.
We believe the CAPS mission aligns with the Glen Lerner Gives Back vision to become immersed in the local neighborhoods and the lives of residents throughout our city. Glen Lerner Gives Back had the opportunity to partner with the CAPS program to create a “Safe Haven” for Chicago Police Department – District 009 area youth during the week of April 10th-14th.
With the CAPS strategy in hand, and recognizing the urgent need addressed by the local community, Glen Lerner Gives Back committed the resources needed to provide 5 days of safe recreational activities for local area kids. CAPS officers and local community leaders collaborated to determine which age range and neighborhood areas would benefit most from a week of programming that consisted of what we termed, “Recreation and Inspiration”. It was determined that the program would be open to youths ages 7-15.
Our “Safe Haven Spring Break” kicked off at 9:30 am on April 10th, starting with a continental breakfast coordinated by the CPD and funded by Target. This breakfast was provided every morning of the program and was a key component of the day, as many of the kids come from homes where breakfast is often unavailable.
After breakfast, the youth would spend over two hours playing soccer and basketball and enjoying the many amenities of Chicago Indoor Sports, who graciously hosted our event. (Mr. John Burns and the entire facility staff, went above and beyond to welcome the kids)
The youth were given full access to all the facility had to offer, which included unlimited game access to the Razzmatazz Arcade, and provided a pizza lunch every day. On Wednesday, the 12th, the kids enjoyed a roller skating party at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Park & Family Entertainment Center.
Our firm was also fortunate to receive the much-needed and greatly appreciated time and efforts of Bridgeport community chaperones, coaches, and youth leaders. They made themselves available daily to not only provide supervision but to interact with the children and serve as positive role models. Some of them even got to share their stories during the “Daily Inspiration Youth Chat” and informal conversations throughout the day. Our very own Glen Lerner shared his personal story of being raised by a single parent on welfare, with a dad in prison and how with God’s help he persevered and overcame those setbacks. Glen’s background resonated with the youth, and his story inspired them, along with his advice to have goals, work hard, and to trust God with their futures.
The success of this week was a result of the collective efforts of the community. It was also a powerful testimony of what can be accomplished when groups collaborate to identify issues, work to solve them and make a positive impact where it is needed most.
Our gratitude and appreciation go out to Senator Antonio Munoz, Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council/Craig Chico, City Year, Brenda Davis, 9th District Police, Commander Stephen Chung, Sgt. Ken Janeczko, Sgt. John Verta, P.O. Sabrina King, P.O. Cheryl Clark, P.O. Kevin Rochwicz, P.O. Jim McAndrew, P.O. Jim Campagna, P.O. Oscar Escalante, CAPS implementation office/Rick Contreras and Terry Wenta, San Miguel School/Salvador Chavez, Fuller Park/Lisa Simpson, Sherman Park/Marvin Tolbert, Theresa Johnson, Hermitage Park/Monique Whitfield, Kelly Park/Luis Ruiz, Brighton Park/Jennifer Ruiz, and Cornell Park.