Parkway Gardens activist nominated for CNN Hero Award

Jennifer Maddox recognized for helping youth

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Jennifer Maddox

Crusader staff report

Jennifer Maddox, a 45-year-old Chicago police officer who has spent countless hours giving Parkway Gardens youth a future, has been nominated for CNN’s Hero of the Year Award.

It’s the latest honor for Maddox, a South Side native who has been running her non-profit Future Ties after school program in the Parkway Gardens community center since 2011.

“I’m so grateful and appreciative of this CNN Heroes honor,” Maddox told the Crusader. “Future Ties has been working in the Woodlawn community for nearly a decade and I can only pray that someday we are able to expand to provide programming and holistic services for the entire family.”

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.

CNN received thousands of nominations before the deadline expired September 4. Maddox’s 28-year-old son nominated her for the award. The winner will be announced live on CNN on Sunday, December 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.

The final round of judging will be done by an online viewer vote conducted on www.CNNHeroes.com. Viewers will have the chance to vote in an online poll for the finalist whose accomplishment, impact and story best exemplifies a CNN Hero. Voting for the CNN Hero of the Year began November 2 and continues until Tuesday, December 12, 2017.

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.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. Excellent. Officer Maddox is doing great work for the youth of Chicago and is a great role model. I wish her the best continued success in her efforts to help the youth in her care realize their full potential. Good story.

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