Burgers, Basketball, and Building Community: A Reflection on Summer BBQs

Burgers, Basketball, and Building Community: A Reflection on Summer BBQs
Featured contributors:
Karina Martinez
Communications Coordinator
Zeni Gonzalez MSW
Leaders of Tomorrow (LOT) Program Manager
Victoria Mora
Youth Life Coach

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”

Stay in the know

Join our newsletter for updates on our community campaigns promoting social and economic justice, community development, and high-quality services for families in need.