I met Marcus Jones at a Healing Corner community outreach event. I was initially impressed because he just seemed to get to work right away without anyone asking him to do anything. He is a natural at interacting with people especially youth. He has a drive that the average person does not have. Naturally I wanted to ask right away about his story but I didn’t want to come off as being nosey LOL! Luckily I would have another opportunity to work with him in the community to purchase his book Everyone Has A Story……This is Mine. Got to learn about Marcus’s journey and I couldn’t put the book down. I knew that I wanted to do some type of work with the brotha after learning about the portion of his life that he shared through his work. Eventually we chopped it up and talked about both of our desires to help the youth and I extended an invitation to him to Join us at U Can Turn It Around which he thankfully accepted. Yesterday I had the opportunity to hang out with Marcus at WVON where he shared shared his story. Marcus is an author, mentor, activist, businessman, talk show host and now I’m glad to say I’m working with him. Check out a portion of his interview and grab a copy of his book to bless your life and the life of someone else.
Welcome to the U Can Turn It Around Spotlight! This is the place where we highlight outstanding young people! We hear so much negative information about our youth and never hear about our young people that are going above and beyond. This submission is from Rita Karlo. Check out Stephanie an outstanding young person. If you know of a young person doing great things or that has turned their negatives into positives submit a bio and a picture so that we can honor them! Email us at email@example.com. Like our Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/ucanturnitaround/?fref=ts and follow us on all social media at @uturnitaround
I first met Stephanie Woods Machado when I went to Cuba in 2010. I stayed in her house and she and I began to get close. She was only 16 at the time. Her and her younger sister showed such warmth and respect toward me during my stay in La Isla de la Juventud, Cuba. Living in Cuba is not easy, especially in La Isla. There is often no water and limited food. Things we often take for granted here like beef, toilet paper or plastic bags are not affordable to the people in Cuba.
Stephanie came to Chicago two years ago and lived with me. During this short time, she earned her GED, learned English fluently and was able to get her residency. This fall, she will attend Northeastern University. She works in a day care full time and manages to live independently. Stephanie has also taught children music at Rico Music School. She continues to give music lessons to children at Latin Music School & YCC Productions. She sings and plays piano in a Humboldt Park church. Stephanie is an accomplised pianist, excels in the clarinet and has great vocal talent. In the little time she has been in Chicago, she has accomplised so much.
Welcome to the U Can Turn It Around Spotlight! This is the place where we highlight outstanding young people! We hear so much negative information about our youth and never hear about our young people that are going above and beyond. This submission is from Rita Karlo. Check out Jose an outstanding young person. If you know of a young person doing great things or that has turned their negatives into positives submit a bio and a picture so that we can honor them! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Like our Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/ucanturnitaround/?fref=ts and follow us on all social media at @uturnitaround
Jose Felciano Pratts is an extraordinary 24 year old from Humboldt Park. He has had to overcome so much. In fact, many of his friends have already died from the violence in the community. I have known Jose for the past four years. He was one of my best students at St. Augustine College. In his classes, Jose upheld high averages due to his perseverance to learn and dedication to his education. Jose is a responsible and highly motivated young man with much to offer. Over the years, I have seen him grow astronomically. He received his associate degree and immediately continued to earn his Bachelor Degree in the Social Work Program. He has an overall GPA of 3.8/4.0.
When Jose is not going to school, studying or working, he is in the Humboldt Park community feeding the homeless, volunteering to care for the seniors at Casa Central, giving presents to hospitalized foster children at St. Elizabeth and dressing up as Santa giving gifts to community children. He was a major contributor in the Chicago water drive to provide needed water to Flint, Michigan residents. He advocates for MAP funding to help Illinois college students afford their education. He also helps to get funding for the Jeep Club by raising money from a mother’s day dance and toy drives. He continues to beat the obstacles which he has faced all his life.
People say protesting doesn’t work, people say praying doesn’t work people say only bringing in the National Guard will stop the violence. Does it take a military force to stop the violence in the city of Chicago? What does that say about us? People say violence is a financial problem, people say violence is a moral problem I think we all agree that it’s a problem but what are we going to do about it? People say guns are the problem, people say guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Will having stricter gun laws help or will they only create an additional hurdle for law abiding citizens while the criminals who are doing the killing easily get guns? These are all questions that we need to answer. Stopping the violence is not a one stop solution.
Adversity affects people from all walks of life and does not discriminate. How you respond to it determines whether you will be triumphant or not. This brings us to the story of Marquis Saffold a 13 year old student at West Park Academy of Fine Arts & Technology in Chicago, IL. Marquis and his family reside on the West Side of the city. Growing up in a major city has its challenges so Marquis knows that he has to be on his P’s and Q’s in order to meet his goals. He does his best to try to stay on top of his school work and home responsibilities and like every other child he also wants to have fun. On April 25th 2014, Marquis, his little brother and some friends decided to spend part of their day playing basketball. However, that day would not be a regular day. While playing basketball they heard what appeared to be a gunshot that some thought was a fire cracker, and as a precautionary measure Marquis put his little brother behind him. Again the sound repeated and Marquis knew it was a gunshot so he sprang into action trying to get his brother out of harm’s way but he himself was shot in the leg. A flood of thoughts ran through Marquis’s mind but at the center of them were keeping his brother safe. Thankfully they managed to make it to the house of a community member who called the police and the ambulance. Relieved that his brother was safe Marquis’s attention shifted to himself. Being an avid sports lover Marquis wanted to know if he would be able to participate in many of the sports that he loved mainly football. He was assured that he would be able continue playing sports but that football would probably be a challenge for him due to the strenuous requirements of the sport. He was a little disappointed but not deterred from continuing to pursue his love of the sport. Marquis’s rehab took two months due to much of it being delivered by his family and himself but he was able to return to school and get back on track to finish the 2014-2015 school year. He is thankful to those who supported him through his ordeal specifically his family and his homeroom teacher Mr. Peter Gyorffy. Marquis learned a few lessons that he thinks will be with him throughout life. He learned to be observant of his surroundings and to never give up on your goals!
The Chicago International Youth Peace Movement Hosted a Peace March in the North Lawndale Community on Saturday August 1, 2015. Tonja Harris a friend of over 20 years and Founder of The Mirror Project invited U Can Turn It Around to walk in her community for peace. The first thing that automatically stood out was the fact that the Millennials were definitely at the helm of leadership. Seeing young people in leadership was very refreshing because normally there is someone older leading the charge. As elders we were asked to position ourselves so that the younger people could lead the march. The March started at Springfield and Roosevelt and ended at Homan and Arthington with a celebration. It was definitely a lively bunch with strong young people leading the way! They were passionate, fearless and concerned about their community. If a difference is to be made in the war against violence it will be made when younger people take full control of the matter! They are the “it” factor! Along the way Chicago Bulls Center Jokim Noah joined marchers and served as a source of encouragement for many of the young people in attendance. Ameena Matthews of Pause for Peace & The Interrupters was also very visible and vocal during the event. Other supporters of the march were the Earthheart Foundation, (CBMA) Campaign For Black Male Achievement, Kuumba Lynx, Holy Family Ministries, N.O.B.L.E. Chicago, and Rush Card representatives. Many communities in Chicago are starting to stand up against violence. This surely is not a problem that only exists here but in other metropolitan cities. We hope that other other young people take a stand to fight for the peace that they deserve!