Tuesday, May 20, 2014 || By Michael Romain
Saturday, MAYWOOD — At a press conference held outside of the police station, Mayor Edwenna Perkins, along with an array of leaders in government, business and the nonprofit sectors, launched the 2nd Annual Safe Summer Initiative. The project is the brainchild of Isiah Brandon, Executive Director of Youth on the Move. This is the first year that the mayor’s office has partnered with him.
Brandon said that his motivation to create the project was spurred, in part, by the many people who would approach him worried about what they believed was the lack of positive outlets for youth, especially teenagers, in the Village. That’s when he began to think about what he could do. But the more he thought about the problem, the more daunting devising a solution became. He realized that he needed help.
“One single person cannot do it alone,” he said. “In the spirit of shared ownership, we cannot predict the future, but we can create it.”
Buoyed by that spirit of optimism, he went out to find potential collaborators. Since the year of its founding, Safe Summer has grown into a community-wide collaboration, with leaders and regular citizens from all walks of life pitching in to help create that future Brandon talks about–people like Carl Mabins, a Maywood-bred Gospel artist and pastor of God’s Congregation Worship Center in Lombard.
Mabins, who is a member of Safe Summer’s advisory board, will be leading the project’s first major marketing campaign on May 30. The plan is for more than 100 men to go out into the roughest parts of the community to advertise Safe Summer’s various seasonal programming initiatives, which will include community pool days at the Fred Hampton Aquatic Center, field trips, book clubs and lunches. All of them free.
The project is a rather eclectic inventory of both already existing programming and programming that was specifically created for Safe Summer. The point is that if people can visualize the range of no-cost activities that are in place for youth throughout the summer–if they are easily identifiable and marketed under a single brand–then the rate of participation will increase.
“The goal is to keep these kids busy, active and out of trouble,” said State Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch (D-4th), who was among a handful of government and organizational officials on hand for the launch.
In addition to the Mayor, Trustees Michael Rogers and Audrey Jaycox, Village Clerk Viola Mims, High School District 209 Board member Theresa Kelly, Maywood Police Chief Valdimir Talley, West Cook YMCA Chief Operating Officer David Parsons, Youth Outreach Services Executive Director Sandra Harrison, District 209 Community and Public Relations Coordinator Rob Daniel, West Cook YMCA Advisory Board Member Roberto Sepulveda, Deputy Clerk JoAnn Murphy, School District 92 Board member Princess Dempsey and Maywood Fine Arts Executive Director Lois Baumann were also in attendance.
“This is not a program,” said Harrison, who’s also a member of Safe Summer’s advisory board. “This is a service. It was a pleasure to coordinate the efforts we already have in place.”
“It is about time that we, as adults, begin taking back our children from the negative influences that are far too numerous on the streets,” said Mayor Perkins. “And while this program is just a step in that direction, I believe that it is a very powerful step.”
“We challenge you to be involved, be engaged in your community,” said Brandon. “When we come together, it works.” VFP
(Left to right: Mayor Perkins addressing crowd; Chief Talley speaking as Isiah Brandon, Pastor Carl Mabins, Rep. Chris Welch and Princess Dempsey; Sandra Harrison speaking; a paper with the Safe Summer logo outside of the police station. Photos by Michael Romain for The Village Free Press).
The first official kickoff activity for the Safe Summer Initiative will take place at Conner-Heise Memorial Park at the corner of 10th and Washington Blvd., 10 AM, on June 14, 2014. For more information, you can contact Mr. Brandon at (708) 299-9464.