Address Community Concerns
Create a Plan to Succeed
Empower Youth in Our Community
The Salvation Army Red Shield Center has a successful weekly mentoring program – Celebrate Launch and Landing – designed to support teens and families in one of Chicago's most dangerous neighborhoods. The program provides one-on-one support and group meetings to help Englewood residents address issues arriving from homelessness, hunger, addiction, unemployment and violence.
After a short musical worship session, a leader will begin the gathering with a discussion aimed to inspire the group. In a recent meeting, Captain Nikki Hughes, Corps Officer at the Red Shield Center, spoke about growing up in poverty.
"There were days we didn't have power, so we ate whatever was in a can… peas, canned ravioli, Spam."
Captain Hughes asked how many people in the room have eaten Spam. She opened the container and took a bite.
"I've been where you are. I understand it," she said. She reminded the group that just because they grew up in poverty or hardship doesn't mean they have to stay in it. "There is better for you. You can start by making goals and small steps."
In addition to addressing large-scale problems in the neighborhood, the group also works through everyday issues children face. Mya Rydberg, 10, has spoken about being teased by a boy in her class. Her mentoring group discussed ways she could deal with the situation.
"He was saying mean things to me and things that weren't true. At first I ignored him. And then I asked him to stop," Mya said. "And then I told Mr. Al that he was still doing it, so Mr. Al talked to him and it stopped."
Mya says she always feels better after leaving the group. "I like it. I feel better. They're like my second family. They listen to me and help me with my issues."
Through The Salvation Army Celebrate Launch and Landing program, Mya has certainly regained her self-esteem. She's even made a vision board which depicts her graduating from a top college as valedictorian and going on to be a prosecutor.
Beyond learning to develop stable and supportive relationships, teens can access Salvation Army's wide range of services including substance abuse treatment, food pantry, emergency assistance, Pathway of Hope, spiritual support, and more.
The most important part of the meetings is when participants share their weekly success stories. They're encouraged to continue towards their goals; to persevere with the collective support of their mentors and fellow group members.
Dates: Wednesdays, 5:00 - 6:00 p.m.
Ages: 16 and older (families are welcome)
Location: The Adele & Robert Stern Red Shield Center - 945 W. 69th Street, Chicago, Illinois 60621 [map / directions]
For more information or to sign up call us at 773-358-3200.