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Englewood, Chatham, Auburn Gresham

All I Want For My Birthday Is Help Cleaning Up An Englewood Block, Activist Says

My Block, My Hood, My City founder Jahmal Cole is looking volunteers and yard supplies.

Jahmal Cole of My Block, My Hood, My City.
Stephanie Lulay
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CHICAGO — A well-known community organizer is asking for help cleaning up a South Side block Sunday for his birthday gift.

Jahmal Cole, founder of My Block, My Hood, My City, asked the organization’s supporters to donate yard equipment or come to 68th and Paulina to help the local block club clean up their alley, vacant lots and streets. That’s all he wants for his 35th birthday.

“My whole reason I exist is to help block clubs, help people,” Cole said.

The party won’t just be work, though: There will be cake, music and a barbecue.

But the event will focus on helping the block club captain of the 6800 block of South Paulina, who bought a vacant lot for $1 and turned it into a community area. The captain and her husband also cut almost every yard on the block once a month, Cole said, but their block club is small and Cole wants his volunteers to help reinvigorate it.

“I think it’s just a great example of what people can do with the $1 lot program,” Cole said. “She’s a superhero … .”

The party is Sunday in the 6800 block of South Paulina.  Volunteers can come at 10:30 a.m., and lunch and music will start at 1 p.m. RSVP online.

Those who can’t attend can still donate reusable yard equipment like lawnmowers, gloves and gardening equipment to Cole by emailing him at Cole plans to use the equipment to help other block clubs in Chicago.

Cole started My Block, My Hood, My City to help kids from low-income areas in Chicago travel to other parts of the city. The program has expanded, and Cole now helps kids travel out of the state, gathers volunteers to help people throughout the city and works with dozens of block clubs.