Raise the Roof fundraiser for youth shelter damaged in fire

By TONIA HILL
Staff Writer

Chaturanga Holistic Fitness, 1525 E. 55th St., will host “Raise the Roof” a fundraising event for The Ujima Village Shelter, 7320 S. Yale Ave., on Saturday, April 29. A fire ravaged the youth shelter in January, which is run by Unity Parenting and Counseling.

“This fundraiser is really just some people getting together to raise awareness and to raise funds for this situation,” said Cindy Pardo, member of First Unitarian Church. Pardo said she recognizes that the shelter needs a lot of work but she and others are willing to help Ujima get back on its feet so that the shelter can continue in helping young people.

The shelter, which is one of the few youth shelters located on the South Side in the Englewood neighborhood, opened fours years ago and it provides 24 beds for young people. The center has insurance, but there has not yet been a settlement of the claim.

The shelter has received help from all over. First Unitarian Church, 5650 S. Woodlawn Ave., created a registry with specific items that included bed sheets, bath cloths, and blankets and cleaning supplies. Also, the congregation took up a special collection that brought in around $2,000 and will hold a silent auction. A percentage of proceeds from the auction will go towards the shelter.

A. Anne Holcomb, supportive services supervisor at Unity Parenting Counseling, a nonprofit that runs the organization said they are considering options. The first being to run programming on the first floor of the building but they would have to get smoke remediation done first. Lockers and sleeping quarters are stationed on the first floor.

Servpro, a cleanup company that specializes in fire and water cleanup according to Holcomb, has volunteered to do the smoke remediation on the first floor for free.

The second option is to find another space centrally located while the current center is being fixed but Holcomb said ideally they would like to remain in the Englewood neighborhood where the community has embraced them.

The basement of the shelter bore the brunt of the damage the lower level houses a community room, TV lounge, kitchen, and showers.

Typically, Holcomb said the center sees 12 youth who regularly rest at the shelter. After the fire, Holcomb was able to find beds for young people at other local organizations.

“Initially almost none of the youth went to the referrals,” Holcomb said this is because “youth are not comfortable for both real and perceived fears of going to other neighborhoods. We were the only one [shelter] on the south side.”

Though the center has been closed for nearly three months, Holcomb said she is grateful for all the support that Ujima has received.

“It’s phenomenal that they [First Unitarian] have done this,” Holcomb said.

She said There’s been an incredible amount of help that has come in from other congregations and people in the city she said who have donated funds and collected hygiene items.

The “Raise the Roof” fundraiser will include music, food, and a special presentation by Holcomb. The event will begin at 7:30 p.m. For more information call 773-717-2842 or email raisetheroof@makepeacechicago.org.

t.hill@hpherald.com