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Friday, August 30, 2013

One In a Million: Diane Latiker and Kids Off the Block



Since the killing of Trayvon Martin we've had a resurgence of talk regarding murders, especially black on black homicides. Why aren't these deaths, thousands of them, on the front burner of every news story? Who is out there helping get the word out and opening their lives to at-risk youth?


One such person is Diane Latiker. This mother of eight started the Kids Off the Block in Chicago in 2003. Helping out homeless kids, gang kids, and all at-risk youth is what she does. Her unselfishness has set the bar high for the rest of us. Here is part of her story from CNN's Hero:


http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/living/2011/04/07/cnnheroes.latiker.cnn
Here are her words on starting Kids Off the Block:

"I am a mother of eight, and in 2003 the only one left at home was my youngest daughter Aisha. She was 13 at the time and she had nine friends. Every summer they would play on the block, boys and girls ages 13-15. I knew that I had to keep up with her, so I started taking all of them fishing, swimming, to the movies, everywhere I could to keep them off the streets. My mom, Evangelist Ruth Jackson watched me with the kids and said to me one day "why don't you do something with the kids, they like and respect you". I didn't want to do it, but didn't want to say that to my mother. I prayed about it for three days, and on July 15, 2003 Aisha and her friends were outside playing. I walked outside and called them together. I asked them what did they want to do with their lives. They started jumping up and down, saying they wanted to be doctors, lawyers, singers, rappers, basketball players, etc;. They looked so sincere and excited. 

I then asked them if I started "something" in my house would they participate. Mind you, I had no clue as to what I was starting. I knew nothing about organizations, EIN numbers, programs or nothing, but I did know at that moment that I was hooked and wanted to do something to help them. That same day I brought them into my house, I listened to them as they each told me their stories, of course I thought I already knew Aisha's. They shared with me the issues they now face as teenagers. The boys being approached by gangs, the girls being approached by boys/men about sex. They all shared some issues like fatherless homes, fear of violence, failing in school, poverty and a sense of hopelessness when it came to their community."

Diane Latiker is a rare find- a role model for our nation. Black youth, white youth, the city of Chicago, you, me… the list is endless. Imagine if her commitment and concern spread throughout our cities. The domino effect would be amazing. Thank you Miss Latiker for being part of the solution. You certainly are one in a million.



6 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Hi William,

    Thank you so much!! I truly wish everyone felt as you do about our youth!!

    Diane

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    1. Diane, your unselfishness is contagious. You are a rare diamond that shines so bright. I can't think of any nobler cause than what you are doing.

      My Godson lived in Chicago for many years and was caught up in the gang/ gun activity. His family moved and now he's doing better. I myself spent 5 years in state prison over a shooting, so I do what I can so our children can have hope for a better, safer life.

      Thank you once again for everything Diane.

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  4. I am grateful for your encouragement William! That is awesome that you give back to our youth, and I'm glad your grandson is doing better!

    Thank you,

    Diane

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  5. Thank you Diane... actually can't think of anything more noble than helping out our youth. Whether it is advice, time, shelter, or just being someone that listens.

    Thanks to people like you, our children learn there can be alternatives to prison or death at an early age.

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