ENGLEWOOD — Organizers at the Englewood Peace Campus are ramping up a year-end fundraising push as they try to recover from a frightening setback in the fall.
Gunfire erupted at the community hub, 6400 S. Honore St., one afternoon in September, nonprofit leader Michelle Rashad said. “Guys from the neighborhood” were playing basketball at the Healing Court when “a car came down the street and let out shots,” Rashad said.
A bullet shattered the glass basketball backboard; another went through a neighbor’s front room window, hitting their TV, Rashad said. One bullet went through the side window of a property on the Peace Campus before lodging in the window frame, Rashad said. Inside the property, the campus manager had been helping a young, pregnant mother and her child, Rashad said.
No one was hurt but organizers of the group that provides youth programming, immediate services and home essentials to Englewood families have not been able to pay to repair the damage.
The group also needs a boost in funding to replenish baby essentials, hygiene items and household kits they give out to families; boost after school programs; and pay for security cameras to “cover the blindspots” where trouble might strike, Rashad said.
Imagine Englewood if, the nonprofit that owns and operates the campus, received a $10,000 matching grant from the Joseph and Bessie Feinberg Foundation in November. So far, they’ve raised more than $19,000 to fulfill its needs. The group hopes to make it to $30,000 by the end of the year. You can donate here.
“We are dedicated to the work and the people we serve,” Rashad said. “We couldn’t let a negative experience disrupt an oasis of peace. We can’t fold when things like this happen because that’s what the devil wants us to do.”
Rashad hasn’t spoken out much about the gunfire that tore through their campus. She worried about publicizing it and posting photos on social media because she didn’t want people to write it off as “another Englewood shooting” or fear visiting the Peace Campus, Rashad said.
But strength happens in numbers, and “the more people that know about the Peace Campus, the safer we can make it,” Rashad said.
“When you are present for peace, violence is absent,” Rashad said. “We have a great force present on the campus, and we need positive things to happen with just as much force as the negative.”
The September shooting was a “scary situation,” but Imagine Englewood if has implemented more solutions to best help the community thanks to it, Rashad said.
The nonprofit is developing a public safety committee, Rashad said. Metropolitan Family Services, Teamwork Englewood, Englewood Heroes, Think Outside da Block and the 7th Police District will join.
The Englewood group will also begin hosting conversations with neighbors to devise helpful plans to keep the neighborhood safe, Rashad said.
“We say the Peace Campus is a resource hub, safe haven and an oasis of peace, but we know we’re not completely removed from the realities of the violence that happens in the city of Chicago,” Rashad said. “We had an incident on campus and nobody was hurt, but let’s not wait until the worst happens. Let’s try to be as proactive as possible.”