What is your story?
My name is Catonya Withers and I am from the South Side of Chicago. I’m known as an Englewood mom, but I’ve lived in Woodlawn, Englewood, and other neighborhoods all over the South Side throughout my life. I am the mom of 4 kids. I love reading. I’ve been a member of MAP for 4 years, and I do a lot of community work. I was a chairperson at Harvard for almost 12 years, and I’m always active in events happening in my neighborhood.
Where do you think the problems in Englewood and Woodlawn stem from?
It stems from the parents. There are lots of parents in denial and there are lots of parents that didnt like authority when they were younger. We had the village mentality when we were younger, where everyone took care of each other. Now there are more rebellious parents who get off on drugs, and their kids end up raising themselves. They have no upbringing and that causes a lot of chaos. The whole “family” part is just not there anymore. There’s angry parenting and theres’s kids who say “my mom says you cant tell me what to do.” So the problems come from the parents.
How do you deal with violence in Chicago?
There is no answer for that. There’s not really a way to deal with it, it’s here. You pray that nothing happens to you or your loved ones. I take 5 minutes to breathe and move past it.
How did you become a member of MAP?
The same way as everybody else. Tasha Downing introduced us to Dede as leaders in our community and our schools, and from that, that’s how we started MAP.
What is your goal for MAP?
MAP gives us a chance to change things in our community. It’s a chance to change things with moms in our community.
What does being a mother mean to you?
That’s what I was put on Earth to do, or else I wouldn’t be here. That’s my purpose right now.
What do the MAP mothers provide for each other?
MAP moms provide a support system for each other.