Thursday, May 20, 2010

Day Thirty-One - Off The Street Club

Tonight Lauren and I participated in the Off the Street Club's Third Thursdays, where kids from the city can get together with adults and spend an evening of fun together. This is Ireana, my pal for the night. We took a bus tour of some historic spots in many of the impoverished neighborhoods on the city's West side. Every location seemed to have a rich history now marred by some tragic event perpetrated by gun violence. I cannot possibly imagine what it is like to live in these neighborhoods as a young child, where making the wrong decisions must seem so much easier than staying on a positive path.

Despite their challenging surroundings, the children were full of life, optimism, humor, and love. I haven't ever been hugged so much in one night. Ireana in particular was a joy to be around (she was named one of the "Girls of the Year" for the OTSC in 2009). I gave her my camera and she really took to it, snapping countless pictures at one of the stops on the tour, a basilica in Garfield Park. She also took the picture below at the final stop on the tour. At this location, a treasured Off the Street Club volunteer was gunned down simply for asking a drug dealer to leave his corner. We paused here on the tour and laid flowers of remembrance for the fallen volunteer.

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