Celebrate Launch and Landing Reaches into Englewood to Build Up Teens and Families
The Fight for Good is working to keep kids in some of Chicago’s most dangerous neighborhoods safe through a weekly mentoring program for youth, teens and young adults. The Salvation Army Adele & Robert Stern Red Shield Center’s Celebrate Launch and Landing program combines group support, one-to-one mentoring and worship to help residents address issues arising from poverty, violence, lack of education, homelessness and more. The entire family also has access to other Salvation Army programs.
“We really want to be a resource to Englewood and build it up,” said Captain Corey Hughes, corps officer at the Red Shield Center. “We’ve had the privilege of walking beside families and lifting them up after tragedies, and now they know we’re here for them.”
After a brief worship and discussion, the youth break up into groups and talk about issues such as teen pregnancy, interacting with the police, violence prevention and goal setting. Group members share their concerns and suggestions for each other, under the direction of volunteer mentors, who have a variety of expertise in music/arts, athletics, spirituality and life skills. There is also a licensed counselor who can provide support to the teens and families as needed.
Mya Rydberg’s mentoring group discussed ways she could deal with being teased by a boy in her class. “He was saying mean things to me and things that weren’t true. At first I ignored him. Then I asked him to stop,” she said. “And then I told a staff member that it was still happening and he talked to the boy and it stopped.”
“Our kids can see success in a lot of different backgrounds. And they’re excited to move forward,” said Captain Hughes. In fact, several teens have committed to military service and several others are studying for college entrance exams. “We’ve also seen an increase in employment, which is a big deal in Englewood,” he said. Clients have obtained jobs at Whole Foods and Starbucks which have recently opened in the area, as well as with Amazon and Procter & Gamble. Rydberg has her sights set on being a lawyer.
Mentors are the key to success in Celebrate Launch and Landing. Watch this video to learn about our mentors and sign up to join them!