Sports for Peacemaking and Trauma Healing

We are holding summer events to create safe spaces for families 4 days a week in Little Village and every other week in Humboldt Park. These include summer softball leagues, soccer and basketball tournaments.

We are so excited to bring back these nights full of sports, kids' activities, grilling and more!

Due to the recent unhealthy air quality and thunderstorms, we had to cancel our softball openers. However, we resumed the week after!

Little Village Summer Softball is a violence intervention program for young people and adults in Little Village. There are over 20 teams playing 16-inch softball, and every team is required to have 5 players, ages 19 and under on the field.

This league was a global finalist for Beyond Sports Most Courageous Use Of Sport.

Copa La Villita soccer tournament has six teams of high school-age

players competing every Monday for the cup. This tournament has created a safe space for the community to come out and enjoy a good game of fútbol, music and free food! Special thanks to Chicago House AC who comes out to serve as referees!

Hoops in the Hood is back at the Gary/Ortiz basketball courts! This is a weekly open tournament. Teams can come out every Friday by 5 pm to register their team. This is a city initiative with over 20 partners across the city.


Promoting Peace Memorial Day Weekend

We spent Memorial Day Weekend promoting peace in Little Village. On Saturday morning, we had our 3 on 3 basketball tournament with skills challenges, tacos, prizes and c

ommunity. Saturday night, we had pop-up BBQs for over 1,000 people. On Sunday, we hosted a large softball street outreach event with over 225 people at La Villita Park. 

 

 

On Monday, we took youth to the Cubs game in the early afternoon, had the mayor come out to hang with the Farragut High School baseball and softball teams and then took 100 Farragut youth to the Sox game. Our street outreach teams and peacekeepers were out working all weekend as well. 


Our Work with Arriving Migrants in Chicago

New Life Centers has joined forces with the city, state and local organizations to help new migrants settle as they await their immigration court cases. We have hired a team, New Vecinos, that will help move families and singles from city shelters to apartments. 

Want to join us in this work? Consider donating kitchen and bathroom welcome baskets for families (see flyer)

 

 

Another way you can support us is by giving to

our Welcome Hope campaign here!

We are additionally delivering meals to families staying in local police stations, as they wait to be placed in city shelters. Twice a week, we also pick them up to take showers in a mobile shower unit outside of our Little Village building.

Most importantly we are connecting them to the community and creating a network of hope and healing. Your donation will go a long way in helping us do that.

 


A New Wave of Mentors

Aldo, Endy, Susie and Gio are former NSLV participants who are now working at Centers! Aldo and Endy are part of the Sports Department and serve as referees during soccer season at NSLV.

Susie is our Data Administrator who keeps track of the number of spectators and participants and analyzes data for events and programming.

Gio is a La Semilla instructor and is coaching his own soccer team for NSLV. The team players are actually his students! Gio has also been part of our Running Forward sports program at Centers.

We are so proud of all 4 of them! They are now paying it forward and mentoring other young people in their community. This is what creating the Beloved Community is all about! 


Creating the Beloved Community Together Through Relationships

Time has proven that genuine and lasting relationships are powerful. We have seen first-hand former participants healing from traumas, finding their own place in this world, and becoming mentors themselves.

Here are some amazing stories:

MARCUS CAVAZOS
Marcus didn’t think he needed a mentor until he got connected to Aaron Rivas. Aaron took Marcus under his wing as if he was one of his sons. In fact, Aaron’s son is Marcus’s best friend. Having these relationships motivated him to seek opportunities and felt accompanied along the way. The impact was so great that he decided to become a mentor as soon as he graduated from college. Marcus became a CPS mentor for a year at Centers. He took youth on field trips, adventure therapy and shared tons of meals! He is now pursuing a Master’s Degree to continue growing his skills. Marcus believes there are a lot of talented youth in Chicago but much is wasted because they don’t have the self-motivation or the people behind them to push them. 

Axander Andrade was one of Marcus’s mentees in the Choose to Change program. He also didn’t know he needed a mentor until he met Marcus. He said it has made a difference to have someone from the neighborhood there for him, who has been through the same struggles, motivating him and teaching him important life skills.

Aaron Rivas is one of our Street Outreach mentors. He met Marcus through some of our basketball programs. He is thankful that God has allowed him to have relationships with young men who look at him like a father.

Aaron believes everyone needs a mentor to pour into them, so they can in turn pour into others. This is especially needed in neighborhoods like Little Village and Humboldt Park where youth are often surrounded by violence.

 

 

VANESSA SANCHEZ

Vanessa met Jazmin Torres, Director of GEMS program, when she was in 7th grade. She’s been participating ever since.

Vanessa is the oldest of 3 siblings. In that role, she always felt responsible and pressured to act perfectly. Jazmin remembers Vanessa being a shy quiet girl who would agree to everything. She started opening up to Jazmin during one-on-one mentoring sessions and has witnessed Vanessa step out of her comfort zone and challenge herself. She is soon graduating from high school and is thinking of pursuing a medical degree.

Vanessa is now a GEMS student ambassador and assists Jazmin during program. GEMS is a girl’s mentoring program that empowers them to embrace their hurt, their community and their struggles. The program ultimately helps young girls find their misplaced selves and makes GEMS out of them.

Vanessa is only one of many girls Jazmin Torres has poured into during her time working at New Life Centers. The youngwomen admire her confidence and self-determination to work towards her dreams and goals. They also admire her faith in Jesus, which Jazmin shares very boldly. Jazmin is a pillar for women at New Life Centers as a whole.

DIANA FRANCO
Diana Franco is another young woman whom Jazmin Torres mentored for years. She had participated in La Semilla after-school program before she joined the GEMS program. Through her mentoring relationship, she learned the importance of fighting for her own voice. She is now motivated to raise her voice for her community.

At the beginning of the pandemic when many were losing their jobs, Diana stepped up to help lead the new food pantry. The team was serving hundreds of families a week. Diana is currently the Food Pantry Administrative Coordinator.

Joining that team meant a lot to Diana. She vividly remembers a time when her mom didn’t have enough money for food. Being able to make sure her community has the groceries necessary, warms her heart.

Jazmin has witnessed Diana’s growth, is blown away and humbled by the experience of walking alongside of her as a leader in the organization and a mother. Diana believes having a mentor tell you they are there for you no matter where you are at, is crucial and can make a great impact in a young person’s life.

Be a part of what God is doing through Centers! GIVE here!

 


About 1,500 Turkeys and Food Boxes Distributed for Thanksgiving

About 1,500 turkeys and food boxes were distributed to families in Little Village right before Thanksgiving Day! It was so essential for us to continue this. Hundreds of families had their holiday dinners secured. Special thanks to our volunteers who helped make this happen. The Israeli Consulate, UPS, Target, White Sox and the CJ Brown Foundation supported us. Special thanks to some of our staff who delivered to participant families.


Resiliency Services Walks With Families During Hard Times

Our Resiliency Services team walks alongside victims of violence and their families with empathy and compassion. They arrive at the scene, visit the hospital and connect them to resources. They help plan a funeral if the incident is fatal. They continue to walk with them long-term through grief groups and counseling. This team is there in the most challen


The Vine Students Learn to Sew

Activities at The Vine after-school program are carefully planned and thought out to help students learn extra-curricular skills. Recently, older children had the option to take a sewing class by Mrs. Brown. The children enjoyed seeing their creations come to life through patience, persistence and learning by making mistakes. One of the hardest lessons to learn for some of our students is that mistakes are not the end. They can not only recover but also learn and grow each time they make a mistake. Sewing enhances cognitive development and motor skills, requiring concentration and hand-eye coordination. We are excited to offer more classes like this one in the future!


Centers Youth Run the Chicago Marathon

Running Forward in the Chicago Marathon! Six youth participants of our running group ran over 26 miles around our city to complete the Chicago Marathon. These young men demonstrated dedication and endurance during months of training. We are so proud of them! Shout out to their mentor, Epi Diaz who walked with them through that process!