Crusader staff report
The deadline to vote online for Parkway Gardens activist Jennifer Maddox for CNN’s annual Hero of the Year award is Tuesday, December 12.
Maddox, 45, is a Chicago police officer who for years has helped hundreds of youth in Parkway Gardens through her Future Ties afterschool mentoring and support program in the Woodlawn complex. Last month, she was nominated for CNN’s Hero of the Year Award.
About 10 activists from across the globe have been nominated for this year’s CNN Hero of the Year Award. Since 2007, CNN has given the award to 11 activists who have made a tremendous impact in communities with extraordinary volunteerism and service. Award winners receive $100,000 and the nominees each receive $10,000. If she wins, Maddox will be the second Chicago resident to get the award.
Since Nov. 2, people in Chicago and all over the world have been voting online for their candidate of choice. The contest allows fans to vote a maximum of 30 times every day using two email addresses and their Facebook login. Since being nominated, Maddox has been featured on CNN, WGN, FOX32, radio station WVON and in the Chicago Sun-Times.
The winner will be announced live on CNN on Sunday, Dec. 17 at the 11th annual “CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute.” The ceremony will be hosted by CNN Anchor Anderson Cooper and television personality Kelly Rippa.
Maddox has served with the Chicago Police Department for more than 20 years. She has patrolled tough neighborhoods and seen how the city’s spiraling gun violence and homicides threaten the lives of Black teenagers on a daily basis.
Recognizing that young residents often caused trouble because they were bored, she convinced building management at Parkway Gardens to open a basement so she could provide activities for young people after school. With her own money, Maddox started Future Ties, which provides teenagers and young adults in the Parkway Gardens apartments a safe environment where they receive tutoring, mentoring and hope for a brighter future.
The Future Ties program has expanded to operate year-round. This past summer Maddox took 35 youths to Six Flags Great America after a Crusader story drew donors who gave her program over $3,000 for the trip to the amusement park. It was the first time Maddox was able to take her youth to Six Flags Great America.
“We are in a state of emergency here,” Maddox said. “The shooting, the killing. Five, six, seven-year-olds—they’re losing people that they love and care about.”
Last year was Chicago’s deadliest in nearly two decades, with 762 homicides, according to the Chicago Police Department. And until recently, 2017 was on par with last year’s rate. “A lot of our young people are fearful to even come outside,” Maddox said.