Walk By Faith mission, in the Austin community at 5453 W. North Ave., targets violence prevention, school dropouts, pregnancy awareness, obtaining GED and computer training. But they can’t do any of this without funding.
Last Saturday, Ina N. Owens, director of the Advocate Bethany Hospital Charitable Foundation, along with community board member Rev. Wardell Newsome, visited the center and talked with its founder Pastor Rosetta Dobson about that very subject.
The second floor location has become a tight fit for the young people who show up each week. As Dobson explained, “We need more room because the young people are eager to come here, and participate in our programs.”
Dobson said youth violence is a very serious problem that has lasting effects on victims, family and the community. The problems facing youth today mean the answers are much more complex than just saying no to violence.
“We all know it starts at home,” Dobson said, “but many of our young people today do not have proper homes and many are being raised by elderly grandparents.”
Owens said the Bethany Advocate Foundation “was funded in 2006, and we give out $1 million per year for the next 14 years-through the year 2020-to fund projects exclusively on the West Side of Chicago-that is, Austin, East and West Garfield Park, Humboldt Park and North Lawndale-to promote health and wellness and address health disparities. So we fund things such as school dropouts, unemployment, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, teen births, infant mortality and homicide, these seven.
“The foundation board was established in 2007, and in six months we awarded $1 million to 27 organizations, so we are very proud of that. This is our first year of having our grantees implement their projects. The purpose of the site visits is to help support our grantees and actually see the work they are doing. We want to see our dollars that are going to work.”
Rev. Newsome added, “We can help and improve the organizations, because everybody is not making the same effort. Our community has been lagging behind. I have a greater appreciation today because I have seen what the funding is doing. So it’s been a wonderful experience to have Walk By Faith as one of the grantees and actually see the work that is on paper come to life and be put into action.”
Owens added, “We have $1 million to give out and there are lots of organizations. I can tell you the board has very difficult decisions to make, but we do the best we can. The decisions are made by our fund board, comprised of 15 members. There are seven from Advocate Health Care and eight from the community, such as Rev. Newsome.
Owens and Newsome met GED instructor Naeem Karrien who, like Dobson, takes a no-nonsense approach to helping young people obtain their GEDs.
Victoria Chambers taught violence prevention to a room full of teenage males, none of whom were acting out, clowning around, talking or playing.