Where we choose to live has an impact on who we are in relationship with. Though we can, without a doubt, maintain strong friendships with those we are separated from geographically, the frequency with which we interact with them will likely look different than if we called the same neighborhood home. This is a big part of the reason our Youth Works team has chosen to make their homes on the South Side. Recently, I was spending time with a few students whose family has been involved with Youth Works for nearly ten years. This family used to live across the alley from 316, CLDI’s afterschool hangout for students. By the nature (and noise) of our work, our paths crossed with this family and their kids began to plug into various activities, which allowed us to start building a relationship with the parents as well.
At one point, the family was in a tough situation when the owner of the home they were renting decided to sell. The family was scrambling to find another rental, but weren’t having any luck. Because of the relationships with the kids, we knew about the situation and were able to connect them with KMC. Before long, they were matched with an affordable rental on the South Side. Today, their kids are still some of our most engaged students. Though CLDI’s efforts are diverse—connecting with youth, providing a safe house for women in recovery, building apartments and coffee shops—we believe that it’s this holistic approach that will continue to make positive, lasting changes in our community.