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TEENS AND ADULTS HONORED AS “HEROES IN THE ‘HOOD” FOR COMMUNITY SERVICE AT 21ST ANNUAL AWARDS CEREMONY

CHICAGO (May 12, 2014) – Though the majority of media coverage on youth is relative to violence and villainous acts, more than 200 young people were honored for their acts of community service at this year’s Heroes in the ‘Hood ceremony hosted by founding sponsors GO Airport Express, CHICAGO CRUSADER NEWSPAPER, and The DuSable Museum of African-American History.

From volunteering to help feed and clothe the homeless, organizing peace walks -- to using their musical talent to help other teens learn jazz and tutoring younger children-- teens who were nominated by youth counselors, teachers, aldermen and other community leaders were attentive and enthusiastic in cheering for one another. In addition, three adults were awarded as “Honored Role Models” and one as the “Stop the Violence” winner, for their community service and the work ethnic they exemplify.

“Teens deserve recognition for the good that they do,” said John McCarthy, President, GO Airport Express. “We need to acknowledge them for the community service they give, and further encourage them to become successful adults,” McCarthy continued. Other awards’ presenters included Pemon Rami, Director Educational Services and Public Programs, DuSable Museum, Dorothy Leavell, publisher, The Chicago Crusader Newspaper and Susan Peters, Manager of Community Relations, University of Chicago Medicine, Urban Health Initiative.

Darlene Hill, FOX-Chicago’s three-time Emmy-award-winning television reporter, served as emcee. In many instances, she encouraged teen awardees to describe the purpose of their organizations or the inspiration for their volunteerism. “It was wonderful to give honor to adult leaders who are actively making a positive difference in our community and hearing young people articulate their motivation and the work they are doing through school and community organizations—some of which they started themselves,” Hill said.

Honored Role Models included Leon Walker,President, DL3 Realty ; Amy Hilliard, Founder Comfort Cakes, LLC and President, Fashion Fair Cosmetics; Charles Smith, Founder/CEO, CS Insurance Strategies…all highly successful Chicago-based businesses with leaders engaged in community service. Each one shared insights on their success and encouraged attendees to continue in their service to the community.

First place in the teen group category was awarded to The Legacy Leadership Group, six teens between 16-18 years of age at the Gary Comer Youth Center who presented "Teen Safety Day" Conference for Chicago land teens the summer of 2013.

Two teens tied for the first place award in the individual teen category: Kristen Lang of IMPACT Family Center and Joseph Jones of the EMBARC brotherhood.

Kristen came to the IMPACT Family Center as an apprentice in its Digital Media Exploration after school program several years ago. She quickly displayed her dedication, leadership, and hard work and ultimately was promoted to intern with supervisory responsibilities. She is described by the executive director of IMPACT, Marsha Eaglin, as having “ a gentle spirit and a great deal of respect for others.” Kristen also participated in the “I am Beautiful” Club, which focuses on mentoring young women and volunteers time on the weekend to different programs in the Roseland community.

Joseph Jones is senior class leader of EMBARC brother hood, a mentoring program which helps students of all grade levels in the school and in the community. This student is also a “Going Green “student lead who helped increase the number of students in the “green” at Harper High school. Students in the “green” have 90% attendance or higher No C's and no misconducts! Joseph also has more than 100 service learning hours.

The “Stop the Violence” award, presented to an adult based on his/her nomination for exemplary leadership of a teen group or program dedicated to deterring violence, was given to Bryan McKinney, founder No Books, No Ball Foundation. McKinney trains, develops, mentors and coaches student athletes to focus on academics first and athletics second. Many of the teens, including ex-offenders, have gone through the program, obtained college degrees and returned to their communities to mentor other youth. This program is run in collaboration with the Chicago Park District and Boy's and Girl's Club. McKinney helped place 400+ student athletes in college on athletic scholarships. His program also educates parents and student athletes on how to prepare financially, academically, and readiness for college.

Winning teens in the group and individual categories receive an all-expense paid day at Cellular Field to watch a Chicago White Sox game, while McKinney (the adult “Stop the Violence” winner) received $1,000 from GO Airport Express and The Chicago CRUSADER Newspaper and Chicago White Sox tickets for teens of No Books No Ball.

In addition to lead sponsors GO Airport Express, The Chicago Crusader Newspaper, DuSable Museum, Chicago White Sox, and WVON-AM1690, additional sponsors of this year’s event included University of Chicago Urban Health Initiative, Brookfield Zoo, AT&T and Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Illinois.

Founded in 1993 by GO Airport Express, the Chicago Crusader and the DuSable Museum, Heroes in the 'Hood recognizes and rewards outstanding teens from economically disadvantaged Chicago neighborhoods. Since the programs inception, more than 400 Chicago teens have honored for donating their time and talent to their communities. In 2008, the program added a new award called "Stop the Violence," which acknowledges a principal, teacher, counselor or community leader who has made an extraordinary effort to promote non-violence through school or an organization-based program.