Thursday, August 16, 2007

Enough is Enough

Yesterday I had two very constructive and eye-opening meetings. The first meeting was for every youth-centered non-profit organization that is funded by the city in our region. It was at the Union League Baretto Boys and Girls Club in Humboldt Park. The meeting overall was very interesting to me because I got to meet a lot of people I had been contacting these past couple of weeks. However, it was also very eye-opening to go into another neighborhood where there is high crime and fairly high poverty. Humboldt Park, like the area around Cabrini-Green is being gentrified (the city is now calling it Bucktown so the negative connotation of Humboldt Park won't stay with the area) and there is a lot of construction going on in the area. However, the real state of things in the neighborhood really came to light for me when I met a gentleman who worked at another Boys and Girls Club four blocks away (the two Boys and Girls Clubs can actually see each other from their buildings). Of course I was naive enough to ask "Why would you need another Boys and Girls Club four blocks away." His answer was painfully obviously: "Because the kids can't cross gang lines." What makes this even more interesting is that each of the Boys and Girls Clubs in this small area host over 1000 children.

A further interesting fact right now is that the gentleman whom I spoke with said that he had recently moved to Oak Park because living in Humboldt Park had gotten too expensive. This fact is another daily part of people's lives who live in the Cabrini Green area as well. One thing that I've come to realize is that there a lot of organizations that serve the Cabrini Green area. Why? Because it's so close to wealthy neighborhoods such as Lincoln Park and the Gold Coast. Humboldt Park is similar being so close to both Wicker Park and Logan Square and it is also similarily taken care of by various organization. When people who have money see poverty up close, they tend to act. However, as the poor of Chicago move away from areas such as Humboldt Park and Cabrini Green and into to the areas such as the Southside and the Westside, they become in some ways hidden from the rest of Chicago. When people don't see poverty, they act like it isn't there and that's why there is a huge difference between the number of programs on the Northside and those on the West or Southside. That needs to be changed.

That's why it was so gratifying to meet with someone who is very passionately trying to create change on the Southside later yesterday evening. Mac-Z Zurawski is from the Southside and very passionate about her neighborhood. She has taken upon herself to be a community organizer and she is a wonderful advocate for tutoring and mentoring programs. Her big push has been to start an arts organization on the southside and also trying to get the aldermen to start caring about tutoring and mentoring programs in their areas. If more people cared like Mac-Z, then the world will truly be a better place. It is in Mac-Z's own words that "Enough is Enough" that I have titled this entry.

Finally, everybody should go to my links and read the E-Learning Blog of our E-Learning and Technology Coordinator Keith Smith. Keith is a wonderful person and very passionate about helping kids. His insights are invaluable and he's a pretty funny guy too. Enjoy!

1 comment:

Tutor Mentor Connections said...

Enough is Enough was a headline of an article written in the Sun Times this summer after a young boy was shot while riding a bus home from school. I used the letters of the word ENOUGH to outline a strategy that would lead to more and better tutor/mentor programs all over the Chicago region.

This can be read that at

As we build awareness of the need for tutor/mentor programs in many underserved neighborhoods, we also need to find ways to sustain support so that small start ups can grow over many years to be places of hope, learning and opportunity.

We need many volunteers like Mac-Z to help make this a reality.