Crosstown Classic 2021: Playing for Peace

Throughout the summer we hosted a summer softball league on the west side of Little Village with a total of 8 teams and another one on the East side with a total 13 teams. Each night we had kids games, food, music and hundreds of people coming out to build community. This is what peacemaking and building the beloved community looks like. It’s hot dogs, softball, kids games, laughter, music and love.

In the coming weeks, we are having the top 3 teams from each side compete against each other for the Crosstown Classic Softball Game. We will soon be announcing the time and date on our social media platforms! The purpose is to “play for peace” and break down walls between neighborhood divisions through sports.


Justice Rising: Project 77 Partnership

Recently we announced a new partnership with local organizations: Breakthrough, BUILD, and Lawndale Christian Legal Center with the purpose of strengthening public safety via holistic social services and restorative justice. This initiative is called Justice Rising: Project 77. The goal is to break the cycle of arrest, incarceration and recidivism by addressing underlying issues that can lead to negative behavior – and ultimately expand this model to all 77 Chicago neighborhoods

The partnership will assign free attorneys to clients who have pending cases in the juvenile and adult courts of the Circuit Court of Cook County. Clients will be connected to services for employment, school, trauma counseling, health care, mental health, entrepreneurship, mentoring, housing, spiritual guidance, sports, violence prevention and substance use.

“The past 18 months have been extremely difficult. Our neighborhoods have been hit hard by COVID-19, violence and injustice. Our young people need hope, healing, restoration and justice. Justice Rising will work to transform the systems around us, focus on wrapping around young people under 25 caught up in the criminal justice system, and build something new for the future. New Life Centers is excited to be part of the Justice Rising movement," said Matt DeMateo, Executive Director at New Life Centers.


Intervening During a Mental Health Crisis

Elías Román, part of New Life Centers’ street outreach team was featured on a WBEZ article where he talks about how he found himself stepping between a Chicago police SWAT team and a young neighbor experiencing a mental health crisis recently. He was able to persuade the youth to come out of his barricade and was later transported safely to the hospital.

“Román is not a mental health professional but the officers eventually allowed him to try to talk the young man out of the basement. Román said he put his youth mentoring skills to work: “ ‘You got a crowd out here waiting for you,’ I told him, playing around. And he’s like, ‘Yeah, man, they want to get me.’ I’m like, ‘They don’t want to get you. It’s just that everybody’s concerned because you said there are guns. … Come on, man, don’t do that to yourself or your family. Think about your safety.’ That’s what I was telling him."


The Importance of Staff Wellness

"New Life Centers practices what they preach. Not only is caring the driving force for the youth and community but also towards the staff. It’s been a long summer of serving so our day of rest, fun activities, and reconnecting was a breath of fresh air. So grateful to be part of an organization that cares so much for all who are around us and for us"

Our summer programming has officially concluded and we are gearing up for the Fall! Throughout the summer we have enjoyed in-person interaction. However, especially with the weight of the work, we recognize the importance of staff wellness. Thanks to one of partners we were able to provide every team at New Life Centers a budget to do something fun and relaxing. Some chose boating, others zip-lining and indoor kart racing!

"New Life Centers practices what they preach. Not only is caring the driving force for the youth and community but also towards the staff. It’s been a long summer of serving so our day of rest, fun activities, and reconnecting was a breath of fresh air. So grateful to be part of an organization that cares so much for all who are around us and for us," said Ken Alvarado, Associate Director of Partner Engagement.

Sports Mentorship
Resiliency Services
Humboldt Park
Pan de Vida

Copa La Villita 2021

Our Copa La Villita 2021 soccer tournament championship game took place this past Friday at Gary Elementary School, as part of our Light in the Night programming. It was Team Chuy versus Club Cuervos, with Team Chuy taking home the trophy. Soccer is a new program we added this year, led by Ivan Alvarado. La Villita Club de Fútbol (LVCF) is a sports program for youth ages 12-16 that strives to create life changing experiences and opportunities through soccer. We believe soccer is more than just a game; it’s a tool for change, an artifact of culture, and a gateway into extraordinary opportunities to the world around us.


Youth Participate in 6 Week Crossfit Course

This summer, youth from our different sports programs participated in a 6 week CrossFit course hosted by South Loop Strength & Conditioning. The youth learned the proper way of conducting certain exercises and the importance of physical and mental health. The program also motivated them to seek a healthier lifestyle.

“I learned a lot of different exercises every week. Another thing was how to do the exercises correctly, so I won’t hurt myself in the future," said Bryan.


Volunteer Spotlight: Maria

"It is very gratifying to have been able to serve for these many years in my Little Village community. There are many needs here and I am happy to help at any moment"

Maria Delgado is one of our Pan de Vida volunteers. She is known by many in the neighborhood for teaching aerobics. We call her “la maestra”. Maria has been a faithful volunteer for more than 10 years. She may be small in stature, but her contagious energy rivals anyone else on the team. "It is very gratifying to have been able to serve for these many years in my Little Village community. There are many needs here and I am happy to help at any moment," shares Maria about her experience. Maria feels blessed by those who come, even as she is a blessing to others.


La Semilla Returns to In-Person Programming

La Semilla now moved to three days of in-person programming in place of virtual programming. We are so excited to continue serving the youth and their parents throughout the pandemic. We are back to afterschool settings and offer kickback time where students are able to hang out with peers and share about life, homework help, social-emotional learning, bible lesson, and gym/park time for physical activity and team-building skills. It's been so fun to have the laughter and connections back in our space!


The Impact of Mentoring & Coaching

With Baseball underway the young men are conditioning, working together, and playing the game! Xavier has been playing for the Little Village league for four years. When asked what he liked most about the league he said "Every coach, every mentor is loving and open. It feels like a family. Everyone is very close close-knit and easy to talk to."

Working together on and off the field helps build a community. Everyone fighting for the same goal, and wishing the best for all involved.In the future Xavier would like to see more mentors and the continuation of building the family.


GEMS Builds Connections Through Art

Last week the GEMS women, used paint to express the different emotions and situations that the young ladies have experienced. Each canvas was rotated in a circle between each GEM, each girl got to leave their mark on someone else's canvas. As the girls shared, it was a reminder that the GEMS room is a safe space where you can come as you are.

They are a community of women who love and support each other through this journey of life. The young ladies have shared their joys and pains, and it was beautiful because that's what GEMS stands for: empowering young ladies to use their stories of hope, joy, pain, and endurance. Both middle school and high school GEMS did a great job of being honest and open and using some of our values through the activity.