Mothers desperate for funding to fight gangs

May 2, 2008 3:55:46 PM PDT
A group of Chicago mothers are waging a battle against gang influence over their children. The mothers say they are desperate to keep their children out of gangs and out of the way of gang violence in Chicago's Back of the Yards community.At a time when many are looking for solutions to the violence, some women are taking matters into their own hands. However, a lack in funding may force them to cut back on their work soon.

The Catholic Charities Center in Back of the Years offers a host of programs, one of which is the new program that helps moms fight gangs. The mothers belong to a group called 'Families of the Community.'

Oscar Contreras, a supervisor for Catholic Charities, began the group when he saw mothers desperate for help with their children.

One mother, Maria Chavez, lost her son to gangs when he was killed in 2001. Now, the mother offers advice and her strength to other moms so they don't have to go through what she did.

"I decided to come to [give] a hand to others," she said.

Cecilia Pulido, another mother, was shunned by family members when her son started acting like a gang member. With the group's support, she has been able to communicate better with her son and she says he is no longer acting out.

Fr. Mike Boland, the president of Catholic Charities, says he sees how important the work this group offers is, but the group's funding will run out June 30.

"The mothers need help and support to break the cycle of violence around them. We think it's important for these organizations to continue because they do make a huge difference over time," Boland said.

Some of the funding for the group had been from the state, but the group can no longer count on that money.

The mothers say, often, they are blamed when their children do wrong. So, they want to make sure they are doing everything they can to turn the tide of violence.


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