SOUTH SHORE — For years, John Coleman has been the heartbeat of his South Shore neighborhood, opening the doors of his gym to young men and women in need of a kind ear, or some time on the heavy bag.
Friday morning, a few of those young men and women will be among the 50 or so volunteers joining My Block, My Hood, My City founder Jahmal Cole to install $10,000 of new equipment inside Pump High Energy Center, 1933 E. 71st St.
For Cole, it’s a matter of showing appreciation to Coleman, a personal trainer and father who has inspired so many.
“What he does is that he leads by example,” said Cole, who put out a call for volunteers on Facebook earlier this week. “We appreciate all of the things he does for the young people in the community.”
Cole and the team of volunteers will replace the flooring and install a new basketball hoop, a new treadmill and a new water filtration system — all courtesy of Cole’s nonprofit organization, created to connect kids and teens from marginalized communities to new opportunities and experiences.
Coleman is overwhelmed by the gesture.
“It makes me feel good that people like Jahmal are out there,” said Coleman. “He inspires me, he inspires the kids. He cares. And anything new is good.”
Coleman said that on any given day, 20 teens will come through the doors of Pump High Energy Center, some with no other place to go. So he puts them to work through exercise.
“I work them out, then I send them home,” Coleman said.
He mentored kids at his old location on 67th Street and Campbell Avenue, too, before moving in 2006 to be closer to the lake. The new neighborhood made him feel welcomed, so he stayed. Being closer to the South Shore golf course didn’t hurt, either.
“Fitness is a way of getting frustration out of your system,” Coleman said.
“I tell the kids that whatever they’re going through, it’ll ease their mind and they’ll come back 20 minutes later and tell me ‘you’re right, it worked.'”
Some even bring a friend, a sign that his method works.
Coleman said that the idea is to help them go out, create jobs, and bring them back to the community.
“They might be inspired to become trainers. It’s all about exposing them to different experiences,” he said.
To volunteer with My Block, My Hood, My City during Friday’s event at the gym, sign up here.