Greater Grand Crossing, est. 1853, is a neighborhood named for the intersection of three main roadways, and our headquarters are situated nearby in Gary Comer Youth Center. From our perch near 72nd street, we have been able to explore Pocket Town with a community advocate, travel to the 6th ward alderman’s office, and walk to a nearby grocer (Aldi). The community is marked by strong personalities and opinions in residential areas, where block club leadership has been well-established and neighborhood concerns are voiced and addressed. GGC also contains organizations that work to provide for community members, such as the Inner City Food Bank. During our visit here, we saw that during distribution days, the food pantry served lines that wrapped around the block hours before opening, buzzing with volunteers and workers who sought to meet the needs of every visitor.
Another amazing site we continue to visit each Tuesday is the GGC library. Here, we serve as aides during STEAM time for third graders, in which reading and educational activities are facilitated with Ms. Kendra Mealy. SSP has allowed our team to experience a variety of service possibilities, and I have loved seeing each member of the team enjoy certain aspects of gardening or working with young children. Although we have faced challenges getting acclimated to the youth center-climate and finding the resources we need to complete research and planning on-site, this has allowed us to learn a lot about working together to overcome logistical problems. As a participant, I have learned to be more flexible, open-minded, and direct in order to adjust to changes and ask others for any help we may need.
In many ways, this flexibility and assertiveness will contribute to success with our final project. We are partnering with Chicago Cares to paint a portion of a peace mural that promotes unity and advocates against violence. As a mentor, I am relieved and proud that our efforts and luck have helped to bring this project together. Since we are essentially contributing to a larger effort that has already been identified and supported by GGC, we can be confident that our work will be well-received and leave a long-lasting, positive impression.