New Bronzeville community center to help youth with trauma of Chicago violence

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A new community outreach center in Chicago's Bronzeville neighborhood, called the TURN Center, will help families, and particularly young people, deal with the trauma of violence in their community.

The center is in what was once an empty storefront on South Cottage Grove Avenue. Its new role will be as a haven for people who have experienced trauma and a place they can turn to for counseling.

It will be the expanded facility of Bright Star Community Outreach which, for years, has offered after school programs for kids and has been a resource for parents. Still, Pastor Chris Harris said there's a void that needs to be filled.

"Parents have lost children. Who's counseling them? Brothers and sisters have lost their brothers and sisters. Who counsels them?" Harris said.

Harris has spent nearly four years working to implement a program of post-traumatic counseling borrowing from a model he witnessed during a trip to Israel. He said some people are reluctant to seek out help, which is why faith leaders will be trained and certified as counselors.

"We believe that through that influence people in our community will start to no longer focus on the stigma. No, you're not crazy. You need some healing and hope. All of us do," he said.

Bright Star Community Outreach is outgrowing its current home in a Bronzeville church, which is why plans are underway to relocate what they will call the TURN Center.

Architecture students at the Illinois Institute of Technology drew up plans for the new building, a renovation which will cost more than $3 million.

But organizers said it's an important investment to bring healing to those suffering from trauma.

"We're really excited to jump on the front end and hopefully prevent problems before they start with our youth," said Rodney Carter of Bright Star Community Outreach.

The plans for the new TURN Center will be officially unveiled at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at King College Prep on South Drexel. Many community partners are on board with making it a reality, but now the fundraising starts.

Organizers will also unveil the results of a survey of 1,500 students of Bronzeville schools who were asked what concerns them the most in terms of violence in their neighborhoods. Organizers said the information promises to be eye-opening.
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