ENGLEWOOD — For the last three years Sunni Powell has watched from his barbershop window as young black males walked around with their pants hanging off their butt, selling drugs and standing on the corner all day.
"I tell them all the time to pull up their pants, but I doubt if they're listening because their pants are still saggy," said Powell, owner of Powells Barbershop, 1163 W. 63rd St. "I see them stealing cell phones and then selling them to dishonest retailers who are not from the community."
This cycle prompted Powell, who grew up in Englewood and lives three blocks from his barbershop, to do more than just preach. He hopes he has found a way to help them.
Powell has organized a career day at his barbershop from noon to 6 p.m. on Jan. 28 The event is aimed to provide males — though women are also welcome — with job readiness and mentoring, which Powell said will enable them to secure jobs that will put them on a path to a career.
"I have arranged for anyone who comes to the shop [on Jan. 28] to receive 30 days of job readiness from Inspiration Corporation," explained Powell. "They would attend the program five-days a week, would receive bus fare if needed, and if they complete the program, Inspiration Corporation will give them a $5,000 voucher that could be used to attend a local trade school."
"I hope to have at least 10 trade schools here for youth to choose from and to learn about different industries," added Powell. If participants complete the program, the $5,000 check would be sent directly to the school they attend. Those with criminal records would receive assistance for expungements.
Teamwork Englewood Technology Community Center, 815 W. 63rd St., has partnered with Powell to recruit youth to the event, said Rosalind Moore, program manager for the center.
"I think what Mr. Powell is trying to do is wonderful. He wants to save youth living troubled lives and have nowhere or no one else to turn to for help," Moore said.
Powell, an Columbia College Chicago alumnus, is a single father who said he loves what he does and loves where he lives.
"I am a product of Englewood. I live in Englewood and I work in Englewood and I am fully invested in my community," he said. "For me not to do anything to help these young men would be criminal and I am nobody's criminal."