Archives for posts with tag: CHA

Alex Kotlowitz visited us one evening when we were corps officers at Chicago Temple Corps.  Here’s a Chicago Tribune article last month about how he was changed by his experience writing the book There Are No Children Here.

Kotlowitz came to speak to the leaders and workers who staffed our Tuesday evening programs for young people.  Once a quarter we would tell the children and teens to stay home.  We’d fix up a nice meal for the leaders and then talk about what was taking place with our young people.  Do some planning.  Pray together.  Sunbeams, Corps Cadets, Adventure Corps, Girl Guards, tutoring, music.  Familiar programs to Salvation Army folk. 

Men Only.  It was the name of the discipling program we used for young men growing up on Chicago’s West Side.  Many of them lived in the CHA Henry Horner Homes.  Henry Horner no longer exists, but it was one rough place for families to raise young people.

Sitting here, writing these words, the memories of people and their stories begin to return.  The sights, smells, feelings.  Fear, anger, hope, joy.

The visit by Kotlowitz was made possible by our friend, Ben Teifeld.  Ben’s a devout practicing Jew who is committed to serving in the very hard places of Chicago. 

Hard work.  If you asked me what characterized our ministry there in the 1980s and early 90s.  And good people willing to come along side us and the many good people of Henry Horner Homes.

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In December I posted about the last resident leaving the famous or infamous (depending on who you listened to) Chicago Housing Authority’s high rise project on the near north side.  It was a place of which storys are made.

It turns out today was the end.  Demolition began of the last building of Cabrini-Green.  Check out this Chicago Tribune article and video.

In the late 1980s I joined Envoy Bruce Mardis of the Salvation Army Correctional Services as he led groups of volunteers to conduct outdoor meetings and distribute food in Cabrini-Green.  Always crowds, especially lots of young people.  What else did they have?  We were the best show in town. 

It’s one of many memories of hot summer days in Chicago during that crazy time of crack hitting the city and very rough years in the city’s high-rise housing projects.

Jon B has set everything in place for the move of this discussion to Facebook.  Sometime during the last week of December I will get acquainted with our new venue and then beginning in January make the move there.

Last week we watched the farewell of the last resident of one of the last remaining high rise complexes of the Chicago Housing Authority.  Here is the NY Times story on it.

Gail and I became familiar with the CHA Henry Horner Homes during the 80s and 90s, just a couple miles southwest of Cabrini.  On occasion we would visit a family living in Cabrini.  One summer we participated in an outreach sponsored by the Salvation Army’s Correctional Services in Chicago with Envoy Bruce Mardis.  Just a little over a mile west of Chicago Temple Corps was Rockwell Gardens surrounding Chicago Midwest Corps.  Especially in the 80s a visit to Midwest meant keeping an ear alert for gunshots.  The officers who served there faced daily challenges.  Bruce and Cheryl Bailey, Buzz and Diane Lambrecht, Kevin and Christie Van Zee, Ed and Joy Hoskins, Robin Rutledge, and many more.  I believe it was where K.K. Mathews had his first introduction to the Salvation Army.

Now the high rises that formed a canyon around Midwest are almost all gone.  Henry Horner last low rise building at 1936 W. Washington may be gone now.  There are lots of stories of what happened inside these buildings and if you are ever interested there are a few I could tell.  And there were colorful places like Cicero’s, the little shop where children could buy a very large dill pickle with a peppermint stick rammed down its middle.

Interestingly, former residents of Henry Horner have organized an annual weekend each summer in Union Park, right across from the old Viceroy Hotel, one of the few places left that feels like home to former Near Westsiders.  A few years ago, Gail and I stopped by one afternoon to visit.

Place is so important.  As Cabrini, Midwest, Horner, Rockwell, and all the other ‘jets’ on the westside and southside vanish many Chicagoans think it is progress.  But it’s only displacement.

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