30.1 Million dollar is how much it cost.
This past Monday I woke up at 7 am in the morning to participate in the University of Chicago’s annual day of service. To be honest, when the clock went off for me to wake up, I had my doubts if I was going to be able to overcome my slumber on one of the very few days that we get out of school. With the encouragement of knowing that had I made a commitment, I broke from my three hours of sleep and walked the block and a half to sign up for my service project. Usually they have you clean out of tool shed or paint a nursery, but on this day (Martin Luther King Jr Holiday) I got lucky. I was signed up to go tutor students at the Gary Comer Youth Center.
This is the same center that my P.A.E.C.E students got to perform at last quarter. (See previous blog) However, on this day I got a chance to take a tour of the building, hear about all of their programs, and see all the different opportunities they extend to the surrounding community.
To say the least, I was astonished.
As I walked from room to room I saw culinary training, web design, recording studios, an outdoor garden, video editing production, and a consistent emphasis on education for students who enter the building. I saw a safe environment where young people could come, explore, and cultivate their interest.
“Education, Technology and Careers Programs in this area include tutoring, college bound, Upward Bound programming, book clubs, writing team, graphic and web design, gardening, as well as, career development courses and internships. Cultural and Performing Arts Programs include pottery, culinary arts, sewing, African drumming and dance, modern and urban dance, Capoeira, piano and choir. Physical Fitness, Social Recreation, Health and Nutrition GCYC provides a wide variety of programs in this area including football, basketball, gaming team, nutrition classes. Civic Engagement, Social and Leadership Development Programs in this area include gender-specific programs, the Leadership Circle, anti-violence programming, community building and environmental programs. Through one-on-one mentorship, classroom instruction, technology and real-world experience, Youth Center members learn a wide variety of important life skills and experiences. Most of all, they have fun!”
After reading this and seeing all these programs right before my eyes a series of thingscrossed through my mind. What if one of these centers were in every community? What if we spent a little less on war and a little more on investing in our youth? What if someone cared enough to invest in the future? What would be the causes of an investment like this? Would some feel less obligated to sell drugs? Would some fell less pressured to join a gang? Would less violence occur in our communities?
If I ever get 30.1 million dollars I know how I would have an impact. Gary Comer—the individual who cared enough to invest back into his community—paid exactly that much to place this state of the art center into his former community of the south side of Chicago.
The moral of the story…In 20 years, I need to be a multi-billionaire.