The Blog

Catonya Withers

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.

Tenesha Barner

 

What is your story?

I am a thirty-six year old mother of two children – one son, 19,  and one daughter, 16.  I also have one older sister who lives in St. Louis. I’ve lived in Woodlawn all my life. I attended Dulles Elementary School and James McCosh Elementary School, and I graduated 12th grade from Englewood Technical Prep Academy. I love basketball and tennis. I love going to Church, and I like to be around people – positive people.

 Where do think the problems in Englewood and Woodlawn stem?

I think they come from a lack of positive role models. It’s not just parenting, because as a parent, you can raise your child the best way you possibly can, but they still have outside influences. To me, it’s more coming from the streets. There are more problems on the streets than there are in the home. There is a lack of role models outside of the home, and sometimes in the home as well.

How do you deal with violence in Chicago?

I am a member of MAP. I also help Officer Maddox at Parkway Gardens with teens and take them on trips to get them away from the community. We want them to experience something different outside of the normal daily routine they have. We take them to sporting events, basketball tournaments – anything to keep them involved and off the streets. We want them to experience something positive. I’m also a part of the Safe Passage program.

How did you become a member of MAP?

First, I’m a volunteer at the Dulles School of Excellence. The community liaison for AUSL deals with the parents, and she came to me and told me that she had a young lady who had a foundation and wanted to talk to local moms. So I went to the first meeting with Dede.  From then, I’ve basically attended every meeting. I really became a part of MAP through AUSL.

What does being a member of the MAP group mean to you?

It means, to me, that I am more engaged in my community. Before MAP, I only worked with Parkway. But since joining MAP, I think I’ve gone outside of my community. I have been involved with the Alderman a little more, done different things in the community, and I wouldn’t have done it if it weren’t for MAP. It opened me up to experiencing other things in the community. It also helps me with wanting to help my community more. One of the reasons I’m still in the community is because I know if I leave, I’m not coming back. But I want to stay and to help.

What is your goal for MAP?

My goal for MAP is to do whatever needs to be done to help bring peace to Woodlawn and Englewood. I want to help moms in our community find whatever resources they need.

What does being a mother mean to you?

It means not being so selfish. It means giving of myself to my children – not just my children, but other children in the community as well who need it. There are children in our community who lack that motherly love and motherly bond. Being a mother means to help spread love to children, as well as adults, who may need it.

 What do the MAP mothers provide for each other?

We provide love, laughter, and compassion.

Is there anything else that you want to say?

Of course not.

Karen Carter Lynch

karenlynch

Karen has been living in Chicago for over 30 years. Originally from Kansas City, she attended the University of Kansas along with fellow MAP Mom, JoLynn Haley.

What is your story?

I am a filmmaker and have worked on movies, commercials, documentaries, and shorts. I’m married to an architect and have two children: a girl, 21 years old, and a boy, 18 years old. I am so thankful that so many of my dreams have and are coming true.

Where do you think the problems in Woodlawn and Englewood stem from?

Wow that’s a big question…I think a lot of problems have to do with not being able to forgive and move on. We carry anger and resentment around and those feelings get bigger and bigger. I read that if we can’t forget old memories, old hurts, then we repeat them. In our head, in the neuro-pathways, those old hurts get stuck. An unexpressed feeling is like a rubber band-it gets stretched with tension and eventually snaps and we are back into anger, which deep down is fear.

How do you deal with this?

Well this is not easy, I struggle with old stuff all the time, but the key is to be in the present. I’m always reminding myself to breathe and it helps take me back to the present. I get in trouble when my mind goes too far into the future – that creates fear. So if I can ask myself, “What’s the next right step?” – it helps. Oh, and being of service…I like to shine the light on other people…that makes me feel happy.

How did you become a member of MAP?

I’ve known Deirdre “Dede” Koldyke for a long time. Our kids went to school together. She asked me to come and film some of the MAP meetings in hopes of making a documentary for EarthhHeart. And I was hooked from the beginning. I love building bridges and community. I always gain new insight from each meeting.

What does being a member of the MAP group mean to you?

First off, I am honored to know such strong and faithful women. We all have struggles raising our children and just surviving life’s challenges. One of the best moments was when we broke off into small groups to share our histories and our stories. When we were finished, we looked at each other and realized we’re so much the same…we’re all searching for love and acceptance.

What is your goal for MAP?

I would love to get more like-minded mothers to join our group.

We want to break down the barriers that keep us apart.

What does being a mother mean to you?

Wow, it’s one of the hardest jobs there is. I know how lonely it can be because my mother raised three children on her own. As mothers, we are not validated or thanked very often. Being a mother is highly undervalued in our country, but it is the most important job that we can possibly do in our lifetime. PERIOD. And that is why we have to come together and support one another. You know what they say, “When the Mother’s happy, the family’s happy”!

What do the MAP mothers provide for each other?

We provide friendship, support, fun, faith, hope, and new ways of at looking at life.

JoLynn Haley

jolynnhaley

What is your story?

I am originally from Lawrence, Kansas. I attended the University of Kansas, where, as luck would have it, I first met another MAP mom, Karen Carter Lynch. Karen and I have been friends and neighbors for more than 35 years (yipes!), and it is a real joy that we are now members of MAP together. I attended Northwestern Law School after college, and worked as an associate and then a partner at a large law firm for 13 years. I am married and have three children. My youngest is in high school; my middle child is in college; and my oldest is living and working in the Czech Republic. I have a lived a blessed life, which has included surviving through triple-negative breast cancer, and I am very grateful for everything I have (especially my two dogs).

How do you deal with violence in Chicago?

Everyone who lives in Chicago deals with violence. Violence in any of our neighborhoods is violence in the city that we all share. It affects and diminishes all of us. It robs peace and hope from all of us. So it is a scourge that we all share, and that we all have to address and work to eliminate. That includes me. Everyone is entitled to a fair opportunity for education, job training, employment, and access to good healthcare. Violence stands in the way of those opportunities, and shatters the peace that allows those opportunities to grow. I am grateful for any small part that I can play in working to restore peace and opportunities in all our communities.

How did you become a member of MAP?

I became a member of the MAP group through my long friendship with Deirdre “Dede” Koldyke, the founder of EarthHeart Foundation. Dede and I have known each other since our children were in preschool together, and my involvement as a MAP mom has been a natural outgrowth of our friendship. Dede has introduced me to so many wonderful women, and I am honored to be a part of the MAP group.

What does being a member of the MAP group mean to you?

Getting to know the MAP moms has been a privilege and blessing for me. They are all amazing, strong women who have taught me so much about faith, hope and love. We truly enjoy each other and help to enrich each other’s lives.

What is your goal for MAP?

My goal is to make a positive difference however I can, big or small, on an individual basis or at a community-wide level, in the Woodlawn and Englewood neighborhoods. I know that whatever I can give through the MAP group will be returned to me many times over. The more I can try to help in others’ lives and work for greater peace in our communities, the more my own life is enriched. It brings me real joy to work with the MAP moms and to become even a small part of their lives and community. Whatever we can share and build together is a gift.

What does being a mother mean to you?

Being a mother has allowed me to experience the strongest bond and love that you can have with another person. The depth of emotion that I feel for my children is something that I cherish and nurture every day.

What do the MAP mothers provide for each other?

We try to provide each other with unfailing support. We are always there to help and encourage each other, no matter what. And we give each other that help openly and freely, with no strings or judgments attached. Our community of moms tries to be a model for peace and mutual respect and affection. In that way we try to give each other what we need the most – a loving foundation on which to build better lives.

Elizabeth Harris

elizabethharris

What is your story?
I grew up on the South Side of Chicago. My aunt raised me because my mother passed away from lupus when I was only one year old. I have an older brother and an older sister, and I have lots of cousins. I went to four different grammar schools while I was growing up, but they were all on the South Side. I was recently homeless for about a year and half. Within that year, I became pregnant with my third child. It was a tough time for me mentally and emotionally, but it made me who I am today.

Where do you think the problems in Englewood and Woodlawn stem from?
I think they stem from poverty and lack of education. A lot of people are uneducated on a lot of things. They’re stuck in a rut and they don’t know which way to go. They want a handout, but at the same time, they don’t want a hand out. It’s kind of like they’re stuck in the middle. We don’t have the right resources here in our community. We have to go outside of our community to get resources, and we often get turned down for being ineligible for being out of the area. When organizations turn you down because they say you don’t qualify, it kills your faith and your spirit, and a lot of anger comes out of it. People then begin to look for other things to fill that void, like alcohol and drugs. It’s a vicious cycle.

How do you deal with violence in Chicago?
Violence occurs because people feel abandoned. We need to show them love. Love breaks all barriers. Love them no matter what type of anger they’ve built, because eventually they will break down. We need to find the source of the problems. You can catch drug dealers, but there will still be drugs on the street. People need to stop being scared and start disciplining children. You still have to continue to parent even when your child is over the age of 18.
For me, because I have three young children, it’s about raising your child and having a faith-based background. Faith fills any void. I want to keep my kids active, and I try to keep them open. I want to give them experiences outside of our community and the violence that occurs, like taking them to the museum. Most people from our community haven’t even been to downtown Chicago. They have only been in their own neighborhood.

How did you become a member of MAP?
I became a member through Pastor Downey. He recommended me to Dede Koldyke. When I got the call if I would be interested in MAP, I immediately said yes. I love anything about helping people, that’s what I want to do with my own life. This is my opportunity to step into a group that can pave the way for mothers like me. I joined so I can turn back and help another mother who went through the same thing I did. That’s where my heart is.

What does being a member of the MAP group mean to you?
I’m just excited to meet other women from different areas who’ve been through what I’ve been through. We all have the same issues, just a different zip code. I’m happy to meet new moms. I love meeting new people.

What is your goal for MAP?
My goal is for the MAP group to get other mothers involved. I want us to start waking up the city of Chicago and to take back our homes and our babies. Mothers run the household, we pay the bills, and we need to not stand for disrespect. I think a lot of women have gotten scared and they need to know it’s time to speak up.

What does being a mother mean to you?
Being a mom is the best thing that ever happened to me. My children saved me. I didn’t want kids, but when I had my first baby, it changed my whole perception. When you feel that first kick or hear that heartbeat, it’s such a joy to see that God trusts me with this life. It’s a privilege and it’s an honor.

What do the MAP mothers provide for each other?
We provide love, understanding, comfort, friendship, companionship. We pick up every piece that may need picking up. Sometimes you just need that. You need to be around people who are going to love you and not be judgmental and lift you up and make you feel good as a woman and a mother. No one understands a mother better than a mother.

Mose Mae Ellison

moseellison

What is your story?

I was born in Jackson, Tennessee but I grew up in Chicago. I have nine siblings, and I am a mother of three. I have two boys and one girl, but my daughter passed away in 2006. I’m also a grandmother and a great-grandmother. Now I am raising my daughter’s son.

I am a volunteer worker at Dulles School of Excellence. I have been volunteering there for 6 years. I am also the Vice President of PACT and a member of the St. Titus Church. I like what I’m doing with my life. I like working with children and I like working with seniors.

Where do you think the problems in Englewood and Woodlawn stem from?

The problems I see are drugs, gang banging, not enough activity for the young people to keep them out of trouble, not enough commitment from the organizations in Woodlawn, and not enough affordable housing for low-income people. Because the rent is so high, the young people have to do whatever they have to do to support their families – even if its wrong. But they need to pay their rent.

They have to sell drugs to make money to pay their rent because there’s not enough affordable housing. A lot of the money the city is putting out, they’re putting it in things that aren’t really necessary. They aren’t making programs for the young people to stay out of trouble, and there are not enough jobs for the teenagers. I believe that if we can get some centers in Woodlawn and some jobs in Woodlawn and some affordable housing, I think Woodlawn would be a better community, I really do.

How do you deal with violence in Chicago?

A lot of times I cry when I hear about a young teenage boy or girl that gets killed. I pray. I do a lot of praying. And if I ever myself come across some money, I would put some of it back into Woodlawn. I would open up a center, something that would help these young people. It’s the young people that are keeping up all this violence. Because they don’t have anything to do but to get in trouble. I really hate it, I really hate it. I’m raising a grandson and if I could, I wouldn’t raise him in the city of Chicago. I would take him anywhere, somewhere. I would try hard not to make him come up in this fast life. Things weren’t like this when my boys grew up.

How did you become a member of MAP?

A woman that works with the AUSL schools picked out four parents from Dulles School of Excellence. I was one of those parents! She introduced us to Dede and then we had the first meeting and I’ve been there since.

What does being a member of the MAP group mean to you?

It’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me, really. It’s been a really great experience. Knowing that women can work together, regardless of their race, and work together and enjoy each other. It’s been a blessing to me and I wouldn’t give this up for anything in the world. We’ve been paired off and my partner mom is JoLynn, I just love her. I just love JoLynn.

What is your goal for MAP?

I want us to be able to get more women, of different races and different backgrounds, whatever, as long as they are moms. We will be in one group to try to save our community and save our kids. Whatever the case. Whatever it takes for us to do this, that’s my goal.

What does being a mother mean to you?

I like being a mom. I like supporting my children. I like being there for them, helping them solve problems, helping them with their education, and watching them grow up to become good, productive citizens. The work that I do, I can see it in them. I see my progress in them.

What do the MAP mothers provide for each other?

Love. We learn how to discuss things if we have problems. We are able to go to a mother in our group and sit down and talk and get some solutions. We don’t have to carry the burden all to ourselves. We learn how to socialize with each other and respect each other and have fun with each other. That’s what I like about it. They have this saying that women can’t get along with women, but that’s not true. That’s not true at all. As long as you know how to respect each other and talk to each other, care for each other, it’s possible. I know that for a fact.

This is a group that needs to be shared with women all over the world. It needs to be shared all over the world, because if mothers can get together, we can be dynamite. We can get anything done that we want to get done.

Sonita Lewis

sonitalewis

What is your story?

My mother raised me as a single mother. I’m the oldest in my family, and I have three sisters and one brother. I grew up in the Robert Taylor Project Housing with my family. Once I got into 5th grade, I decided I wanted to play sports. I was actually on the boy’s basketball team. I decided sports were my thing and I played throughout elementary and high school We moved into the Roseland area in 7th grade and I continued playing basketball, volleyball, and softball. I was the Female Athlete of the Year during my senior year of high school, and I was MVP of all the teams I played on.

After high school, I had my son, Sean Mitchell, who is now 15 years old. Two years later, I had my daughter, Sonitra, 13 years old. I still wanted to continue my education, so I went to massage therapy school and computer assistance institute. I became a speaker for AUSL. I coach my daughter’s sports’ teams. I’m also the Assistant to the Coordinator at Parkway Gardens Community Center.

Where do you think the problems in Woodlawn and Englewood stem?

There’s no love in the homes so the children are growing up without people leading them in the right direction. They go out on the streets to find love there. I think that’s where the problems come from. If you don’t make sure your child gets their education and stay on them to become someone in life, and they feel like there’s nothing else for them, they’re going to stray out into the streets to look for whatever they don’t have at home. They’ll try to find love on the streets.

Even if they do have love at home, sometimes there’s still something missing, and they may look for someone else to give them love. A parent can feel like they’re doing so much, they’re providing for their child, communicating and compromising, yet their child is still looking for something outside the home. It’s something a parent may never understand.

Mostly, dealing with the gangs is the biggest problem in Englewood and Woodlawn. There are so many different gangs on every different block that you walk on. It’s not even about drugs. It’s about territory. You can’t walk down this block or that block because of where you’re from. It’s really unbelievable that you can’t walk down the street. It is terrible. It really is.

How do you deal with this?

I get involved. I help out in every way that I can. I become a mentor and take on so many different roles in the community. I want to bring everyone together to see how we can solve these problems. I try to be a positive person and try to make things better because then, other people will follow behind it. You can only try, even if people aren’t on the same page as you.

I try my best to keep a positive attitude and when you have children, you have responsibilities. I tell myself, and my children, that whatever you put your mind to, you can do it. I try to tell my kids I love them everyday and help them everyday. I need to be the best parent I can be. If I’m not there for my kids, who else is going to be?

How did you become a member of MAP?

We always wanted to help our neighborhood, but never knew how to get it done. When Dede came along with EarthHeart, it was a godsend. She has given us the resources to start making changes in our neighborhoods. The neighborhoods can get better because of her. And I believe she is going to make a lot of change in these communities with the help of all the MAP moms.

What does being a member of the MAP group mean to you?

EarthHeart has been wonderful. We have wonderful ideas. Everyone has their own ways of wanting to help people. Not just their own community, but also in other communities that need help. EarthHeart has been the third family that I love to have. I am very excited and very honored to be a part of EarthHeart.

What is your goal for MAP?

I think it’s great that we’re having more parents get involved. We can make these neighborhoods friendly again.

What does being a mother mean to you?

I’m a very dedicated parent to my kids. I put my children first and I have to explain that to people. I’m going to have another girl in a couple months. With me being pregnant now, I think about the struggles I’ve already been through, but with me having my family, my EarthHeart family, and my Church family, I believe I have that help that I won’t have too much to worry about.

I’m proud of my kids. They both get good grades and are athletes, just like I used to be. I tried my best to prepare them that as the years go by and tell them that things are not going to get any easier. You have to work for what you get. They see the struggles I’ve been through, but they see the hard work I’ve always done.

The children are growing up in a different way than what we did. I try to be the best parent I can be. Whatever I can do to have them not stray away, I try my best and sometimes, the best is all that you can give. I will be there for my children no matter what they do. I could never turn my back on them.

What do the MAP mothers provide for each other?

We provide each other with resources and ideas. My MAP mom partner is Julie. Julie is amazing. Julie is a mom that can be your mom if you don’t have a mom anymore. If you need anything, if you need to talk, a little help, she will do anything for anyone. She loves my children and she asks about them and how they’re doing. She is a great, great wonderful person.

It’s been wonderful. EarthHeart has been wonderful. You can’t ask for more.

 

Raysel Turner

rayselturner

What is your story?

I was born in Chicago, IL and I am the youngest child of four. I’m a single mom of four kids, ranging from twenty to three years old. I am currently in college and I’m seeking my Bachelor’s in Human Resources and Organizational Leadership. I also currently work for Woodlawn Public Safety Alliance.

Where do you think the problems in Woodlawn and Englewood stem from?

I am living in Woodlawn and I lived in Englewood at certain points of my life. Growing up as a kid in Englewood, I think I got a lot of insight as a young kid who has an old soul. People have no hope, and they justify their actions because they have no hope. People are overall just frustrated – one thing in their life didn’t work, and it becomes a blame game. I’ll do this to you because X, Y, and Z happened to me. would start with people in their homes. It’s your mindset and the way you think. If you think you deserve a handout, you aren’t so geared to have initiative. Other people work on a daily basis, but their wages don’t allow them to afford some of the things they wish they could. I wouldn’t point fingers at anyone – it’s a whole culture.

How do you deal with this?

Personally, I leave people where they are. I’m at a certain point in my life where I don’t think I’m better than anyone and I might not understand their situation, but I respect that whatever they’re going through, is just as powerful in their minds, as whatever I might go through. I prep my children on a daily basis about the violence. I’ve given them tools to avoid problems as much as possible. I’m a borderline drill-sergeant. But when I look at it, we’re almost in a war. And sometimes bystanders can get hurt. In my eyes, my children carry around a grocery bag, and at the end of their life, they should have every tool they need to become active adults. And these things I teach them are one extra item they can put in their grocery bag.

How did you become a member of MAP?

I was working with Elizabeth on PAC meetings, and Tenesha was a mom who was active in the school. They told me about the awesome things happening in MAP and I was always supportive of everything they did. They would invite me, and I met Dede. Unbeknownst to me, they were thinking about bringing me into MAP, so when Dede extended the invitation to me, of course, I accepted.

What does being a member of the MAP group mean to you?

When I think of MAP, I think of sisterhood, community – and to learn how to empower myself by working with others who have a common goal that is something bigger than myself. We can take the tools we learn from one another and one day, empower other women who may not know they have the strength to make change. That’s what I love about MAP.

What is your goal for MAP?

What I would love to happen with MAP is to impact Woodlawn, Englewood, and any other neighborhoods that may be in trouble. I want to expand what we’re doing in other states and to replicate what we’re doing right here in Chicago.

What does being a mother mean to you?

I think being a mom is so many things. I’m really honored to be a mom, I think it’s a great honor. Women have strength, we are great teachers, and it really takes a person who has A LOT of love. A mother is not just someone who has a child, but a mother has to keep up the nurturing aspect of that for years on end.

What do the MAP mothers provide for each other?

MAP moms are a connected chain, and I really believe that they provide support, understanding, and resources to each other. We all come together to better ourselves and our communities.

 

Sonya Harper

Mother Ambassadors for Peace

 
What’s your role as a mother?
I see my role as being a mother to my own child and to my community. As a mother in the community, my role is to look at the community with a mother’s love, love it unconditionally, and not just focus on at what’s wrong with it. My community is special to me, and just like a mom, I will do whatever I can to ensure my child and my community is prosperous and healthy. My role as a mother is not just for the other children in the community, but I’m a mother to every piece of the community: kids, women, men, parks, animals, etc. My role is to figure out what can I do to help the community to flourish, just as a mother looks at her child. As a mother, I am figuring out how I can make Englewood flourish and the people here to flourish. I do this through my work on a number of different councils, committees, campaigns and organizations.
 
How do you envision mothers using their power and voice to make a difference?
When moms get up and talk, people listen. People have respect for moms when they stand up. There are so many other organization, just like EarthHeart, where moms come together for a common cause (such as against drunk driving, against violence) and they make a big difference and people listen to them. Overall, people look to women to be the outspoken advocates on issues. In that respect, issues arise in a community, but nothing changes until women become the sounding alarm for whatever is going wrong in a community or a society. Women are also nurturing and they are organizers. They know who and what is needed in order to make things better, and can help promote certain things and keep things under control. When you’re simply maintaining or even creating change, it’s up to the women and the moms to be the outspoken entity. We have the world’s greatest assignment in sticking up for our children on a daily basis – and we apply that to our communities and apply that to our society too. Women are also more collaborative and can come from a more collaborative standpoint when it comes to dealing with community issues.
 
What did receiving the 2015 MOM award mean to you?
Receiving the mom award made me realize that people do pay attention to the hard work that you do. It made me realize that I was doing something special, because maybe on some level, I didn’t feel it was something special – I just felt it was something everyone should be doing. To be awarded for something you’re supposed to be doing, encourages you to do a little bit more, and it makes you step back and think: How can i be even more effective? If EarthHeart thinks I’ve done some great things, how can I find even more people and encourage them and spread this work to them? How can I have an even bigger impact? In my daily life, it’s hard to know I’m making a difference, and I’m going through the same things my neighbors are going through. At the end of the day, winning the 2015 MOM award was a very encouraging thing. It’s encouraging in the way it can inspire others to action.
 
Background Information
Sonya Harper is from West Englewood and was very active in her community as a teenager. She worked in TV news as a journalist, producer, reporter, and writer, but she grew tired of adding to the negative stereotypes and so she decided to leave the news behind. She began to work on public relations and community organizing. She wanted to work with organizations in her community to ensure that better stories start coming out of Englewood. She wanted to make sure the stories about her neighborhood weren’t just about who got shot last night – but instead, she was motivated to tell the TRUE story of her community. Englewood has suffered years and years of neglect and abuse and exploitation which led to desperate situation. Englewood became an empty community with no jobs for anyone, and Sonya realized that in the presence of being neglected by the city and by the community, nobody was telling what caused these problems in Englewood. Sonya aims to debunk the negative stories and she works with other organizations, inspiring them to work better and more efficiently. Every organization that Sonya works with, she works to spread positive news, perform direct outreach to neighbors, and improve everyone in her communities quality of life. On another level, Sonya works to get elected officials that have power to facilitate change to extend their work even further. Sonya conducts a lot of meeting and organizing and her main goals are: 1. to change the perception of her community, 2. to implement the plans created by organizations and elected officials, and 3. to have a more peaceful community.

Kim Snow

kimsnow

What is your story?

Born in Chicago, I am the mother of three children, ranging in age from three to twenty-one. I went to school on South Side. I am a caterer by profession, and I volunteer at the school.

 

Where do you think the problems in Woodlawn and Englewood stem from?

To me, it starts from home. It’s something the kids aren’t getting at home that is bringing them to the streets and getting them to act out.

 

How do you deal with this?

I pray so hard. I get out in the community and I do things with kids, especially the neighborhood boys. For the most part, there is really nothing you can do because you never know who you’re coming across and who you’re dealing with, so it’s kinda hard. But I pray and I stay involved.

 

How did you become a member of MAP?

I was originally supposed to start last year – but I didn’t meet with Dede until this year. We had a one-on-one meeting and I decided to become a member.

 

What does being a member of the MAP group mean to you?

From what I’ve gained, it’s kind of like a sisterhood – a bond with people that I never saw myself ever interacting with.

 

What is your goal for MAP?

I would love MAP to accomplish peace in these streets. Something to where the kids on the streets know they have to get it together because the MAP moms are watching – that’s what I would love to see.

 

What does being a mother mean to you?

It’s my life – I am a mom, I don’t know what I would be if I wasn’t a mom. That is just my world, I can’t really put it into words.

 

What do the MAP mothers provide for each other?

Support and encouragement. Definitely support and encouragement.