By JESSICA KIM COHEN
A new gun violence prevention group, The It’s Time Organization (TITO), held its first fundraiser last Wednesday evening, July 23, 6 to 8 p.m. at the Hyatt Place, 5225 S. Harper Ave.
TITO plans to support established violence prevention programs through partnering and investing, focusing on the 3rd, 4th and 5th wards.
“What we’re trying to do is start an initiative where even though that’s not what we do regularly in our work, we’re assisting those who do do such programming,” said Bill Lowry, president of TITO. “Sharing what I call the three T’s: time, talent, treasure.”
Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, state Rep. Christian Mitchell (D-26), Ald. Will Burns (4th), Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd) and Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) were among the fundraiser’s more than 120 attendees. Though Lowry would not disclose how much funding the event raised, he said TITO doubled their goal.
Lowry, a Kenwood resident, conceived TITO in February 2013, after the death of Hadiya Pendleton.
“She was shot in late January, 10 feet from my backyard,” Lowry said. “One of my three children came and asked me what I was going to do about it, and noted that the violence had come to our doorstep.”
With this in mind, Lowry said he and his wife called together 50 of their friends and family to discuss gun violence in the community.
“I challenged all of our friends by saying, ‘It’s time for us to stop hiding behind our alarm systems and hiding behind our safety glass. We need to step out and play a role in our community,’” Lowry said. “That’s why it’s called ‘The It’s Time Organization,’ because that was my challenge.”
The group has partnered with the Quad Communities Development Corporation (QCDC), an organization that assists neighborhoods on the South Side through social and economic initiatives. TITO will support QCDC’s “Chi Anti Vi” initiative, which aims to decrease street violence.
TITO also plans to support Broader Urban Involvement & Leadership Development (BUILD), a group that engages at-risk youth through various programs, including violence prevention curricula and after-school recreational activities. Lowry said they will bring BUILD’s programs on the West Side to TITO’s three wards.
“We’re starting in the areas that really surround where we live, and that’s the 3rd, 4th and 5th wards,” Lowry said. “You start small, then get bigger: first on our block, then the community, then the South Side. Then, we go from there.”