Program aims to help stop the violence

June 12, 2008 5:07:02 PM PDT
With the hot summer months, Chicago's mayor and police superintendent are eager to stop violence on city streets. And they're not alone. On the Southwest Side, a program affiliated with Boys Town in Nebraska is saving young lives. Fourteen-year-old Nabor Rubio, along with Ismael and Edgar, are in a full court press, under pressure to make the right decisions about life. That's why they're at Casa Tepeyac in Chicago's Back-of-the-Yards neighborhood.

"The whole focus of this program is to create peace in this neighborhood so that children can grow up safely and get an education. That's the whole purpose, to give kids a chance to live life to the fullest," said Father Bruce Wellems, executive director.

Casa Tepeyac is an affiliate of Boys Town in Nebraska. ABC7 took a tour of this live-in program that saves young men from Chicago's tough streets and gangs are a top concern.

"You have different colors of a gang, they can shoot you," said Nabor Rubio, Casa Tepeyac resident.

Safety is critical. The young men live in a new four-story center, sharing living quarters, a kitchen and rec room. Fourteen boys can stay in this $1.5 million facility, which was partially paid for by state and city funds.

"If they save one child, it's a success," said Mayor Daley.

And to succeed there are expectations. Point cards track positive behavior.

"It teaches me how to be good in life," said Edgar Pavio, Casa Tepeyac resident.

There is a fixed schedule on the fridge. And, yes, some kids have complained.

"You want everybody to carry a point card and be accountable for what they're doing," said Fr. Wellems. "They moan to have a structure in their life, but deep down they want a structure in their life."

These young men face a serious challenge. There are about six gangs in this neighborhood. The gangs consider Casa Tepeyac neutral territory. In fact, some of the gang members go to the home for help.

"We've even encountered brothers and fathers who are gang members who are saying, 'Help my son, help my brother or sister, because I don't want them to go the same way I'm going,' " said Josette Heredia-Carmona, program director.

"We have to catch them. We have to get them when they're right on their edge and say, 'You're valuable, you're a treasure in this world,' " said Fr. Wellems.


Load Comments