Large-scale community cleanup event in Jackson Park

By TONIA HILL
Staff Writer

Two Chicago organizations will be working together to host a community service cleanup event in Jackson Park and Woodlawn on Saturday, Aug. 19.

Chicago Cares, Inc. and My Block My Hood My City will work together to transform parts of the neighborhood.

“The city reflects who we are,” said Jamal Cole founder of My Block My Hood My City.

The cleanup will consist of projects on 22 blocks in Woodlawn from 61st to 67th Street Stony Island Ave., to Dorchester Ave.

“We’re starting in Jackson Park as the kickoff,” said Jenné Myers, CEO of Chicago Cares. “In that area, there are a lot of vacant city-owned lots. They [volunteers] will be spending the morning making public art, landscaping and cleaning up empty lots and the Metra corridor.”

The project aligns with the My Block My Hood My City’s one block at a time initiative, which is, is a volunteer program. Volunteers meet four times a year to conduct service related projects across the city.

Chicago Cares specializes in organizing volunteers and partners with corporations to clean up, transform and connect people from all parts of the city.

The organization will assist in uniting volunteers for the community event on Saturday.

Myers noted that My Block My Hood My City and Chicago Cares share the similar goals in connecting people in different parts of the city.

“We have been mobilizing volunteers for over 25 years. We do that to strengthen and unify the city. We believe that volunteering can create connections,” Myers said.

My Block My Hood My City was formed out of Cook County’s Juvenile Detention Center in 2013. Currently, the organization is based in the Chatham neighborhood.

Cole assists teenagers from under resourced communities in Chicago and takes them on educational field trips exposing them to different cultures and career paths.

“Teenagers from the south and west sides of our city [Chicago] are not connected to the same extent as teenagers from the north side,” Cole said. “A lot of teenagers have never been downtown or to the Lake. Their whole worldview is shaped by the infrastructure of their neighborhoods like North Lawndale or Englewood.”

This is a first time partnership with both organizations.

Myers said Chicago Cares is also in conversation with Local Initiatives Support Corporation, which is based in Chicago.

“They manage a large lots program in the city,” Myers said. “They are looking to find out how residents who purchase lots from the city can repurpose them so that “it’s attractive and an asset to the community.”

Chicago Cares in years past has conducted service projects in the neighborhood.

Each year they host a major volunteer event, serve-a-thon, where they renovate schools. Myers said some of the schools have been in Woodlawn.

Currently, they are working on a mosaic mural installation with Green Star Movement for the Metra Underpass, as well as in the Dorchester community garden.

About 250 to 300 volunteers are expected for the event, which kicks off at 8 a.m.

Members of the Jackson Park Advisory Council and Green Star Movement will also be volunteering on Saturday.

To find out more information visit chicagocares.org.

t.hill@hpherald.com