This summer, BPNC in collaboration with New Life Centers and 12th Ward Alderwoman Julia Ramirez launched a series of pop-up barbeques at Kelly Park.
Every Friday in August, our Leaders of Tomorrow and Youth Life Coaches team spent the afternoon at Kelly Park with the intention of using food and space in the park to cultivate community.
Read a reflection by Zeni Gonzalez, Leaders of Tomorrow (LOT) Program Manager below:
“The BBQ’s were created to target opportunity youth. Youth that hangout by the park that needed that extra support and were in need of a mentor. Both the LOT mentors and New Life mentors would be present. My biggest highlight of all three BBQ’s would have to be the community we built in all three. We met youth who were a part of street organizations that made connections with our community schools director to help their own kids with after school activities. All together we fed about 800 community members. My favorite part of the BBQ was watching the smiles on every person that came by and got their food. We forget the meaning of humanity sometimes. We are all so busy with our own life that we forget that sometimes the person next to us hasn’t probably eaten. I remember taking a plate of food to an older person on a bench in the park and his eyes opened and praised God for the food. These BBQ’s were more than just a place for us to showcase who we are, these BBQ’s were a reminder that no matter who you are, where you come from, what you look like, we all are a community and we deserve to treat each other like that.”
Victoria Mora, Youth Life Coach, shared her favorite takeaway was “the feeling of community. Some of the people there went to all three of our events, and it was nice to see them and them recognizing us. I especially loved the last day where I saw so many students from the school which I mentor, both current and former. While I was new to the school, they recognized me and for me that was just such a warm feeling”
Brighton Park Neighborhood Council is very proud of our parent mentors. Our Parent Mentors are leaders in the classroom and beyond. This holiday season, they lead various projects from neighborhood clean-ups to Christmas card writing.
Youth from Leaders of Tomorrow alongside BPNC's Youth Life Coaches held our first ever Kermes filled with games for children, raffles, creative activities, and a shared meal of pozole.