It’s amazing what mothers can do, especially when they are inspired by their children. One mom, Jennifer Maddox, took a second job to help improve the lives of her children. She didn’t realize it would lead to her improving the lives of thousands of others.
Maddox was a police officer in Chicago and took a second job as a security officer in one of the housing projects in the city.
She quickly learned that most of the kids that lived in the project were getting into trouble and joining gangs simply because they were bored.
She thought that if they had something safe and fun to keep them busy, they might be less likely to turn to crime and violence. She knew there had to be something that she could do. She earned the trust of the residents and then convinced the housing project’s manager to let her start an after-school program for the kids that lived there.
“There were no safe spaces or places at all for the kids to be kids, to play ball, jump rope or anything. The lack of resources and lack of community spaces for young people sparked something inside of me.”
Two years later, she officially founded Future Ties, an organization that offers after-school and summer activities in addition to mentorship for children who are 18 and under.
To date, crime in the housing project has decreased by 70 percent. She has kept hundreds of kids out of trouble, and a lot of the same kids who participated in the program come back to help as mentors and volunteers.
She is proud of the organization and is happy to be able to help out so many kids in need. The organization has grown a lot over the years and received donations that allow it to help more and more kids.
According to the Future Ties website:
“A Chicago Police officer, Jennifer Maddox launched Future Ties in 2011 while serving as a security officer at Parkway Gardens during her off hours. After noticing that young residents often caused trouble because they were bored, she convinced building management to open a basement, so she could provide activities for the kids after school. The program has since expanded to operate year round, and Maddox hopes that one day Future Ties will be able to reach all 1,200 kids that live in the complex.”
Some of the programs the available include:
“In the after-school program, children receive homework help and participate in life skills workshops about topics like nutrition and conflict resolution. Participants have access to technology to build their computer skills with the supervision and guidance of adult mentors. Future Ties also uses Scholastic’s ReadAbout literacy program and project-based learning to supplement what the children are learning in school.”
“Future Ties also runs summer programming for elementary schoolers. Kids participate in a wide variety of recreational activities. Last summer, participants took field trips to places like the roller skating rink and the beach, attended sports camp, took tennis lessons, participated in activities at Parkway Gardens, and much more. Middle and high school students serve as counselors, providing positive role models for participants and giving older children valuable job skills.”
“Future Ties runs a mentorship program for 50 eighth graders who attend the Dulles School of Excellence, which is located near Parkway Gardens. Participants are referred by teachers, school administrators, or Parkway Gardens staff due to truancy and poor behavior. Mentors are recruited from the Future Ties staff, residents of Parkway Gardens, and the membership of the nearby Parkway Church. Each student meets with his or her mentor one-on-one for 90 minutes each week and also gathers monthly with all of the program participants and his or her individual group.”
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“Future Ties supports parents who live within Parkway Gardens. Future Ties conducts workshops about life skills, helps people build technology skills, conducts domestic violence assessments, and provides mentorship programming. Parents also volunteer at the after-school and summer program for elementary schoolers.”
This mom proved that by thinking out of the box, you can make a difference. She saw a problem and came up with an easy solution. As a result, she has helped hundreds of kids and will likely help thousands more in the future.
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