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TEENS AND ADULTS HONORED AS “HEROES IN THE ‘HOOD” FOR COMMUNITY SERVICE AT 22nd ANNUAL AWARDS CEREMONY

CHICAGO (April 24, 2015) – Though the majority of media coverage on youth is relative to violence and villainous acts, more than 125 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 at a reception and awards ceremony on Thursday, April 23 at the DuSable Museum of African-American History.

From volunteering to mentoring younger children, helping to feed and clothe the homeless -- to organizing peace walks -- teens who were nominated by principals, youth counselors, teachers, aldermen and other community leaders were attentive and enthusiastic in cheering for one another during the ceremony. In addition, Jerry Torry was awarded $1,000 as winning adult hero in the “Stop the Violence” category for 35-years of mentoring youth in the South Shore area, D. Michelle Flowers Welch,Founder/CEO Flowers Communications Group and Abraham “Abe” Thompson Jr., Director of Operations, WKKC Radio, 89.3FM were awarded as “Honored Role Models” and for their community service and the work ethic 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 Hospitals. McCarthy also congratulated The Chicago Crusader Newspaper on its 75th Anniversary.

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 D. Michelle Flowers Welch, Founder/CEO Flowers Communications Group and Abraham “Abe” Thompson Jr., Director of Operations, WKKC Radio, 89.3FM … highly successful Chicago-based businesses with leaders who are both engaged in community service. Each one shared insights on their success and encouraged attendees to continue in their service to the community. Flowers spoke on “letting your light so shine” from her favorite Biblical scripture and using the gift or talent you most enjoy as a catalyst for success. Thompson encouraged youth to put their “p’s” of power, purpose, and practice to work for them and said that “The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.”

First place in the Group Teen Hero category was awarded to “Gwendolyn Brooks College Prep Team World Vision”. The entry read: For the past 2 years, a group of high school students from Brooks have ran the Chicago Marathon to raise money for clean drinking water in Africa by partnering with Team World Vision. This makes them the first high school marathon team in the history of Team World Vision, which is the largest non-profit that participates in the race. Though many of our students face financial challenges themselves with more than 75% of them living at or below poverty level, to date, 68 of 78 students have completed the race, raising over $25,000.

Youth of South Side Help Center’s C.R.E.A.T.E. program received 2nd place award. Its entry read: Sphere-headed social media conversations nationally, to educate, prevent, discuss and engage their peers about the warning signs of teen dating violence and provided them with available resources if anyone was a victim. They created posters and poetry and were nationally recognized via Twitter by the Love is Respect organization, a national resource agent for teen dating violence.

Other groups of Honorable Mention included: Youth Guidance Working on Woman (WOW) Program at John Hancock High School for protesting violence against women; Teen Nation, Inc., for providing teens with summer jobs; Dusable Museum’s Docents of the Future and Legacy Groups of more than 150 students who lead tour groups at the museum based on their knowledge of African-American history; Winnie Mandela Options high school students who conducted a food and cloth driving, and other youth groups.

William LaGrone of Jones College Prep was announced as first place winner of the Individual Teen Hero category for establishing a mentoring group which has helped more than 20 teen boys at school, in the community and at the church he attends. Other Honorable Mentions in the individual category included Lazerice Drew, Lamin Johnson, and Joseph Ewing – all for mentoring other teen youth, and 13 year old Angel Johnson for leading a group to sew more than 100 blankets for premature infants.

Adult leaders of youth groups in the “Stop the Violence” category included Kathleen Mosley, Program Coordinator, Chicago Area Project/Youth As Resources/Heads up Kids N Cops Program; Jerome Collins, Youth Leader for Beasley Academy Elementary children; Megan Kordas and LaRuby Sangster, social worker and counselor at William H. Brown Elementary ; Love Moore, Teen Nation Inc.; Tamela Collins Cole, Athletic Director/Mentor Coach; and Afrika Porter, CEO Afrika Enterprises, Co-Founder of Indigo Nation Home Schoolers Association.

Winning teens in attendance for the group and individual categories received new bicycles, provided by Riteway Huggins Construction. All the winning teens will receive an all-expense paid day at Cellular Field to watch a Chicago White Sox game, while Jerry Torry, adult “Stop the Violence” winner received $1,000 from GO Airport Express and The Chicago CRUSADER Newspaper and Chicago White Sox tickets.

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 Hospitals, Brookfield Zoo, AT&T and Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Illinois, Riteway Huggins Construction.

Founded in 1993 by GO Airport Express, the Chicago Crusader Newspaper and the DuSable Museum of African-American History, the Heroes in the ‘Hood campaign recognizes and rewards outstanding teens from economically disadvantaged Chicago neighborhoods for their volunteer service. Since the program’s inception, more than 1,000 Chicago teens have been 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 adult community leader who has made an extraordinary effort to promote non-violence through school or other organization-based programs.