Howard: Community Center Addresses Street Violence
By Maria Baglien
The Red Line Project
Posted: Monday, March 7 2011
With 96 percent of children in the East Rogers Park area coming from low-income families, violence becomes a pertinent issue within the community as a response to the poverty, community leaders say.
The Howard Area Community Center, located at 7648 N. Paulina St., was created in 1967 to provide food and clothing to those community members who could not afford it. Since then, the center has expanded to provide other programs, such as preventing violence among youth.
According to the Howard Area Community Center website, more than 21 percent of households in Rogers Park obtain an annual income below $15,000. In addition, 25 percent of individuals over the age 25 do not have achieved an education level greater than high school.
Chandra Clark, who works with the Howard Area Community Center’s youth department and is also the program coordinator at Howard Area Gale Academy, said that this lack of education is one of the reasons why there is a high violence rate among adolescents in Rogers Park.
Other motives Clark gives for high youth violence rates in Rogers Park are domestic violence within homes, impoverished areas of the community, and lack of employment for both adults and adolescents.
“We are currently working on several community outreach projects focused on violence prevention," Clark said. "Howard Area also offers constructive alternatives for youth that keep them engaged in positive ways, such as after school programming and summer camp.”
The Howard Area Community Center, located
at 7648 N. Paulina St. (Photo by Maria Baglien)
The Howard Area Community Center offers several youth programs that partner with neighborhood public schools. Some examples of the programs include tutoring, art and recreational workshops, mentor programs and employment exploration programs for older adolescents, ages 16 to 18.
Clark said that the program based at Gale Academy, called Greensleeves, “really focuses on helping middle school students through the constants changes they are going through.” She says that while the students are given time to do homework, they are also given an opportunity to break off into groups and participate in different activities. For example, once a week girls will have a day where they break off to paint their nails, do their hair, and talk about “girl problems.”
“A partial solution to youth violence involves community-wide efforts that support parents and families, and incorporate schools, police, youth, and adults, as well as local businesses,” Clark said, “to engage and empower youth to find positive alternatives to street life and violence.”
“The key to success is to become heavily involved with other organizations, it becomes a unified effort,” said executive director Bruce Rasey.
The Howard Area Community Center also offers employment workshops for adults to help them create resumes, search for job opportunities, and practice interviewing. The center also offers adult classes in math, reading, and English as a second language. Health services are also offered in addition to a food pantry and counseling services.
Nicole Thomas, the volunteer coordinator at Howard Area Community Center, said, “we continue to reach out to the community to help bring it to an end. Howard Area does not just provide general services, we create strong bonds with all different types of individuals in the community.”
Map of Violent Attacks in Rogers Park Since Feb. 15:
View Violent Activity in Rogers Park in a larger map