Community Outreach Changing North Lawndale
North Lawndale residents are doing many things to combat violence in the area. Their actions range from enjoying local sporting events to peace gatherings that help with relief and starting conversations, which builds a place where North Lawndale residents are able to advocate for a better life.
One of the community events that has been taking place is the 60623 Peace Gathering held by Pastor James L. Brooks of Harmony Community Church in collaboration with the 10th District police and other organizations.
There have been four Peace gatherings so far, with the fifth taking place on August 6th (http://events.chiunitepray.com/event/E6750013621). I was told by Chicago police officer David Vazquez the Peace Gathering was a response to recent violence in the area. When I spoke to Sandrell Scott, a community coordinator from North Lawndale Christian Community Church, 3827 West Ogden Ave., she told me about nurturing the growth of children because of the large impact they have on the future of the community.
“The children are very important because the children are our future,” Scott said. “So we have to prepare them and make sure they have access and opportunities to grow on because if we do not see about the children, the community and the world will go haywire.”
She also spoke about the community coming together to celebrate its youth.
“We really honor our kids at Lawndale Community Church and every graduation, no matter what you graduate from, we honor that and we work together with this march because we are a community,” Scott said.
Another event that I went to that day was NLCCC (North Lawndale Community Coordinating Council) Public Safety subcommittee meeting which is open to the public and held every fourth Wednesday at UCAN’s Chicago Headquarters, 3605 W Fillmore St., by Norman Kerr, MSW, executive director of West Side United.
The NLCCC Public Safety subcommittee meeting discussed the violent crime statistics of mostly in the 10th District, which was accumulated by the Chicago Police Department (CPD). Different initiatives were also talked about that promoted relief and the connection of the community including B-Ball on the Block and PlayStreets Chicago. Here is where I met two residents of North Lawndale: Audrey Dunford, the court coordinator for the Restorative Justice Core and Chandra Van Dyke-McGee who works with the North Lawndale Employment Network (NLEN) wgidoes community engagement and outreach. I asked them about the changes they wanted to see in North Lawndale.
“We don’t have investment into the community and it takes for us to be at these seats and tables, having these kinds of conversation is actually going to bring about change. Specifically with public safety, I feel everyone should feel comfortable in the community… as a kid going across the street to the park shouldn’t be a death sentence, it should just be having a good time at the park, right?” Chaundra said.
Dunford talked about the benefits of community events and how the people that come encourages growth.
“How they have different events that people can actually attend and there’s people who actually be in the streets, so they know what goes on in the streets and they can keep people safe…,” she said. “So all those events coupled with people who live in the community and organizations that are in the community just putting events out here that people can go to and feel safe.”
We also talked about the initiative to inform the community about more events.
“The NLCCC has had several forums, to get community people together to talk about what’s happening in the community, but we do have door knocking campaigns… to let them know what’s happening in the community… so part of it is that the people from the organizations and the people who live in the community, we got to get out of our houses and start having conversations with each other,” Dunford said.
“Like Community Engagement is Key,” Dunford said. “At the NLEN, my position was created in 2018 and the goal was for us to be more present in the community and having a voice in the community… Those of us who are doing it, are doing it more than just full time it is our lives. We believe in the community and we love our community because this is our home, this is our space, so we got to make sure that the people are aware there are going to be changes, there are going to be investment and North Lawndale is going to grow and everyone should be a part of that growth,” Chaundra said.
North Lawndale is inhabited by a lot of people, but we have to be more involved in initiatives to see change in the community. Nothing will happen if we stay inside, we must be an agent of change.