Monsignor Michael Boland

A path to success

Sunday, June 25, 2017

For many of us, summer is a blessing. With kids out of school, we relish the slower pace of life and take pleasure in more outdoor activities. But for families living in troubled neighborhoods, the start of summer can be very worrisome. Parents fear increasing violence and struggle to keep their children safe and engaged in activities that can have a positive impact on their futures.

Cardinal Cupich is spearheading the archdiocese’s efforts to restore peace and bring hope to these neighborhoods. Catholic Charities is pleased to be a part of his anti-violence initiatives, and this summer we are redoubling our efforts to provide safe alternatives to young people living in some of the areas most plagued by violence. Each day our staff encounters so many wonderful kids in these communities, and we are truly blessed to help them capitalize on their strengths.

In Englewood and other South Side communities, Catholic Charities will once again partner with the City of Chicago’s "One Summer Chicago" to operate the Summer Youth Employment Program. Approximately 350 young people aged 16-24, will be placed in jobs with meaningful work experiences, provided with mentors and role models, brought on field trips to cultural institutions and given opportunities to reinforce a strong work ethic.

In Uptown, Rogers Park, Humboldt Park and other neighborhoods on the North Side, Catholic Charities will continue our partnership with the Chicago Housing Authority in the Family Works program, helping unemployed youth living in public housing. As many as 200 young people aged 16-24 and their families are provided with case-management services, job-readiness training, mentoring and employment through One Summer Chicago.

In the Austin neighborhood, Catholic Charities Peace Corner Youth Center is a haven for young people looking for a safe place to play and learn. They enjoy a wide variety of activities including basketball, art and theatre classes, specialized job training, summer and year-round employment opportunities, academic tutoring, computer training, connection to GED classes, ACT preparation and conflict-resolution support.

Also in the Austin neighborhood, Catholic Charities was recently given a portion of the beautiful ABC Bank Building, which we will use to bring a host of mental health, nutrition, employment and social services to the West Side.

In the Back of the Yards/New City neighborhoods, Catholic Charities was recently awarded a grant to provide a mentoring program targeted to boys in eighth through 10th grade. The boys will not only receive trained volunteer mentors, but they and their families will also be connected to the wide array of social services offered by Catholic Charities.

Throughout the city, Catholic Charities will be offering the Summer Food Program, which provides breakfast and/or lunch to thousands of children who are at-risk for hunger. Children receive one or two meals per day throughout the summer, as well as nutrition education and engagement in fun, physical activities that promote healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle. Catholic Charities also operates mobile food trucks that travel directly to playlots and apartment complexes, reaching the most at-risk children who may not otherwise be connected to community programs.

During the summer months, Catholic Charities’ goal is to bring out the tremendous strength and resilience of young people living in communities plagued by gangs and violence. By showing youth how education leads to meaningful employment, providing youth with positive role models, feeding their bodies with nutritious food and their minds with healthy alternatives and giving them a safe space to develop hopes and dreams for the future, Catholic Charities opens doors of possibility that they may not have seen before.

There is a path of success ahead for all our young people — Catholic Charities is honored to help them find it.

Boland is president and CEO of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago. For more, visit


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