ENGLEWOOD — A South Side community event honoring victims of gun violence and their families will come earlier this year as organizers hope to unite neighbors ahead of the summer.
The Peace Fest will take place 2-6 p.m. Saturday at the Englewood Peace Campus, 6402 S. Honore St. All guests are encouraged to wear orange to show their support for families in the Greater Englewood community. You can register for the free event here.
Friday marks National Gun Violence Awareness Day and kicks off the WearOrange weekend campaign. The movement started in 2013 in honor of Hadiya Pendleton, a South Side 15-year-old fatally shot days after performing at President Barack Obama’s 2012 inauguration.
Community leaders traditionally celebrate the Peace Fest in late August or September. Michelle Rashad, executive director at Imagine Englewood If, one of the organizations spearheading the event, said it was critical to have the event sooner to give neighbors “something positive to look forward to.”
Organizations Think Outside Da Block, Moms Demand Action and We Grow Chicago, a collaborative effort between five Englewood community organizations, will co-sponsor the event.
“Considering everything that’s happening in the world, in our city, it is so important to take a moment to come together as a community and celebrate each other, life, love and healing,” Rashad said.
The community event will be family-friendly, Rashad said, with free food, live musical performances, a basketball tournament, horse riding and a nature playlot.
“The idea is to have something so that, no matter what age you are, no matter if you came up by yourself or with family, you will be able to find something that you can enjoy that brings a smile to your face,” Rashad said.
The Peace Fest will also have a section where representatives from more than 25 organizations will be on hand to connect neighbors with local resources. There will be opportunities for families to find summer programs for children, support for elderly relatives, reentry services, and ways to increase civic engagement.
“We want to meet residents where they are and provide them with resources and opportunities to be activated this summer,” Rashad said. “We’re going to continue to be a critical part of their family support system as we continue to navigate this crazy world.”
Saturday’s event will hit close to home for Rashad, whose close friend was killed in 2006 as she was getting ready to head to school blocks away from where the event will be held.
As she reflects on her friend and her community, Rashad said she hopes the event will provide a positive space for people to feel connected with one another again.
The Peace Fest will have a survivor section honoring those lost to gun violence and celebrating the families that persisted despite their grief.
“This is personal,” Rashad said. “I’m looking forward to all the love and the community coming together because it’s so important for our healing, which is so essential in the city of Chicago.”
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