Five gang factions surround The Salvation Army Adele and Robert Stern Red Shield Center, which serves roughly 60 youth a night. Inside, mentoring between staff and youth provides a model for love.
Over 500 murders have taken place in the city of Chicago since the beginning of 2016, a sharp uptick of deadly violence that has confounded civic leaders in what was already one of the country’s deadliest urban centers. (Pictured: Lt. Corey Hughes and Charles)
Since 2013, Englewood’s The Salvation Army Adele and Robert Stern Red Shield Center, greatly expanded in 2006 by a $16 million renovation, has been overseen by Captain Nikki Hughes and Lt. Corey Hughes. (Pictured: Green and Lt. Hughes)
Five gang factions surround the center, which serves 60 youth on an average night, and up to 100 during special events. (Pictured: Green and Jonathan)
Creating a safe haven for after-school programs represents just one aspect of the center’s growing community presence. In many ways, its deepest impact has come from the unofficial mentoring program that’s sprung up between staff members and area youth. (Pictured: Lt. Hughes and Anijah)
These relationships extend far beyond the Red Shield’s four walls; mentors might show up at school events or basketball games. When necessary, they accompany kids to funerals. (Pictured: Green and Damion)
“‘Why do you love us?’” Lt. Hughes recalled one young boy asking. “He said, ‘no one has ever loved us like that.’” (Pictured: Lt. Hughes and Raphael)
Lt. Hughes along with Program Director Al Green shouldered many mentoring duties, offering sympathetic ears and a solid support system to kids like Malik Westley, a 16-year-old living nearby with his mother, six brothers and two sisters. Westley’s older brother Michael was fatally shot in 2014. His father, in and out of jail during Westley’s childhood, now resides in Indiana.
Upon entering his teens, Westley’s frequent police run-ins left him feeling angry and unfairly profiled as a “thug” and a troublemaker.