History has shown that there are always individuals who make sacrifices that result in the wellbeing of their communities. These volunteers are not always recognized for their good deeds because the problematic elements of the community receive more attention.
For example, because of the volatile nature of the Black-on-Black murders in Chicago, those who are working behind the scenes to help oppose this situation are often ignored. One of the best ways to combat negativity is to focus on the positives. This reinforces the good and provides psychological and emotional fuel to the souls of those who have made a decision to be an uplifting force in their communities.
There exists such a program in Chicago that can have very positive results in the long run in this regard. It is the “Heroes in the Hood” campaign. In 2017, the “Heroes in the Hood” campaign celebrates 24 years of honoring youth and youth organization leaders who have chosen to volunteer for community service.
The campaign was founded in 1993 for the purpose of recognizing the contributions of teens between the ages of 12 – 18, as well as those of adult leaders of youth groups who support economically disadvantaged neighborhoods in Chicago.
The current sponsors are the Chicago Crusader, Founding Sponsor; GO Airport Express, Founding Sponsor; WVON-AM1690, Nomination Promotion and Founding Sponsor; and DuSable Museum of African American History, Host Venue and Founding Sponsor.
Awards are presented in the following categories: Individual Teen Male and Female; Teen Group; Adult “Stop the Violence.” To date, 3000 teens have participated in the awards ceremonies honoring more than 500 actual award recipients.
Schools and community-based organizations are solicited for nominations through print and broadcast media; a panel consisting of civic leaders and others serve as judges. Winners are invited to a complimentary reception and awards ceremony held at the DuSable Museum of African American History.
Past adult leaders cited as “Honored Role Models” who have addressed the audience during the awards ceremonies include former Chicago Bull Bob Love; Richard Dent, former Chicago Bear/1985 NFL Champion; Chef Jeff Henderson, The Food Network’s Chef Jeff project; Minnie Minoso, Chicago White Sox; Amy Hilliard, Fashion Fair Cosmetics; Tuskegee Airmen Chicago DODO Chapter; and Regina Taylor, Emmy and NAACP Award winning actress and playwright. Dorothy Tucker, award-winning veteran CBS News Anchor and Chicago NABJ Chair will be the 2017 MC. Darlene Hill, FOX-TV News Anchor, previously served in this position.
This year the “Heroes in the Hood” campaign will target the Parkway Gardens Apartments, a 35 building complex running from 63rd to 67th and King Drive, in Woodlawn.
The campaign strives to help Black residents of this historic complex by fostering community activism and by celebrating the selfless volunteers who reside in that community. The “Heroes in the Hood” campaign was timely when it was initiated 24 years ago and remains very timely today.
While President Donald Trump reaches into his arsenal of strategies for fighting crime in Chicago by pulling up the very regressive “Bring in the Feds” model, a more prudent approach is right here under his nose. Tapping into the human potential in communities by providing economic and other resources to reinforce the positives, would be the best strategy with long-term impact.
The Black community continues to lament the poverty and crime in our communities, and rightly so. Energy would be best spent in helping to support those initiatives that promise to yield the greatest benefits. The “Heroes in the Hood” campaign is one of the best examples of such a strategy. Positive recognition of personal effort is one of the best sociological motivators available, and is extremely cost-effective. Please keep this in mind the next time you look for long-term solutions to community problems, as opposed to the quick fix of oppressive force now being bandied about by the current administration. A luta continua.