As a Chicago police officer, Jennifer Maddox noticed the majority of crimes and gang-related activities were taking place after school and there were no after-school programs or activities available to the youth in her Parkway community. Despite being a single mother working two jobs, Jennifer set out to provide a haven for the young people in her area, creating an after-school “safe-space” program in 2009 with her own resources for supplies and snacks. As more and more young people began participating, Jennifer expanded her services to help them with school work, using her own money to purchase computers, printers and other supplies. Today, Future Ties provides after-school programming five days per week for about 40 elementary school students in the Chicago Woodlawn area. Adult volunteers and now paid part-time staff (parents), as well as young people from the community, serve as role models and tutors for participants. Since Future Ties was established, the Parkway community now has seen a decline of gang-related activities and vandalism, and a decrease in crime by an overwhelming 50 percent.
Being a Women of Worth means being able to bring life-changing services to the 1,200 young people living in my community – keeping them out of trouble and engaged in positive activities that will help them build brighter futures.