“Jennifer is a joy to work with,” said Ryan Priester, associate director for community programs at the Office of Civic Engagement. “We like to think that our help has made a difference.”
“Kebon and other young people at Parkway Gardens are among the fortunate. Kebon’s sister will work at Navy Pier this summer. And unlike most One Summer Chicago participants, Kebon and other youth at Parkway Gardens won’t have to struggle finding transportation to get to their jobs. For four hours a day, five days a week, they will work in various positions, participate in workshops and learn valuable job skills at the community center, just steps away from their homes at Parkway Gardens.”
However, it is indicative of the American spirit to carry on despite the frustration and create your own solution to the problem at hand — this is exactly what Chicago’s Jennifer Maddox did.
Jennifer Maddox was honored as a super mom on the Steve Harvey Show for her work with Future Ties and as a Chicago Police officer.
CNN Heroes honor everyday Americans who make a difference in their communities. Future Ties’s work was featured on CNN, including footage from the after school program.
“If it wasn’t for [Maddox], a lot of things my kids have encountered, they wouldn’t know,” said Parkway resident Tenesha Payne. “She got them in gymnastics, track, modeling, a peace march. Even the older guys respect her. She’s well respected.”
“Yet simple as it is, there is no doubt this room is a very special place for the kindergarteners through fifth graders who come here weekday evenings to learn and play, and most important, stay out of harm’s way.
We’re all looking for big answers for Chicago’s violence: “bring in the feds,” take away the guns, hold the judges accountable.
But in the process we sometimes fail to properly support the people who in small ways already do what they can to provide real solutions.”
“Five years ago, Maddox stepped into this void to open a free summer day camp as an outgrowth of an after-school program she had started there while working as a security guard during her off hours.
From the start, there were always more children who wanted to participate in the programs than could be accommodated by Maddox, who funds them mostly out of her own pocket.
The community center is too small to handle all the children who wish to attend, which caused Maddox to limit her program to kindergartners through fifth-graders, much to the disappointment of the older kids who at first crowded into the room with the younger ones until it was standing room only.”
“The game room at Parkway Garden Christian church is filled with young kids. The church kept its Safe Haven program running in the summer, even though it lost its funding from the Chicago Public Schools.
It’s a second job for 3rd district police officer Jennifer Maddox, who is also the director of the program. Her police work convinced her of the need for programs like these.
‘It’s frustrating to see the kids out here in the violence, getting shot at and running from the violence and things like that. That’s why it’s so important to have some activities for them to do so that they won’t be hanging on the corners,’ said Maddox.”
Every year, the EarthHeart Foundation recognizes a mother from the Englewood and Woodlawn communities for her commitment to serving her community. Jennifer Maddox won the award in 2013.
One parent, Raysel Turner, credits Maddox’s mentoring of her son, Jacques Jackson, for him making it into college last year and for landing a summer job this year.
“She comes to their graduations. She comes to their ribbon-cutting ceremonies. She tries to come to whatever tournament it is, whatever it is that she has time to do that she’s available, and we love her so much for that,” Turner told me.