ENGLEWOOD — Englewood residents say they're grateful to Brenda Rose, mother of Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose, who three years ago partnered with an Englewood church to move her food pantry closer to where her famous son grew up playing basketball.
The Uncle Shack Food Blessing was founded in memory of Brenda's deceased younger brother, Reginald “Shack” Brumfield who died in 2008, said to St. John Chisum, pastor of Gifts From God Ministry, 1818 W. 74th St.
Every Thursday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., the pantry - and often Brenda herself - hands out up to 150 bags of food to needy individuals, said MaryAnn Daniels, manager of Uncle Shack Food Blessing.
The partnership formed between the pantry and the church was an ideal one, Chisum said.
"It was a match made in Heaven. The Roses were looking to move their food pantry at a time when we were trying to start a food pantry," he said. "God really blessed us to have this pantry here because it allows us to introduce people to God, which is our main purpose."
For some needy families, the food pantry is a weekly necessity.
Larry Holman, 53, is married with 10 kids including six who still live with him. He is currently unemployed but receiving disability and has gone to the pantry every week for the past three years.
"I'm just trying to make ends meet until I can do better," said the 42-year Englewood resident. "Besides, I like it here. I come to church sometimes and the people here treat me with dignity and respect."
Roxanne Williams, 51, also goes to the pantry frequently and expects to go more now that she is unemployed.
"I was working for the Hostess Company but they went bankrupt. But even before I lost my job I was coming here to supplement what groceries I was able to buy," explained Williams, whose son grew up with Derrick Rose. "I have lived in Englewood my whole life and my son used to play basketball with Derrick at Murray Park. Derrick was always into basketball and was a sweet kid."
Williams' mom, Doris Hardin, sometimes goes with her to the pantry.
"Hey, Momma needs some help too," said the 70-year-old grandmother. "I'm glad the Roses stuck to their roots and is giving back to the community. A lot of people forget where they came from once they 'make it.' But not the Roses."
And even though neither Derrick nor his mom still live in Englewood, 58-year-old Willie Gunn said that does not stop them from coming back to the neighborhood.
"I have seen Derrick up at Murray Park playing ball plenty of times," said Gunn, a factory worker with three kids.
According to Daniels, each person who comes to the pantry receives one bag filled with meat, a starch item, such as rice, bread, vegetables, and sometimes a snack. The food is provided by the Greater Chicago Food Depository.
Anyone who goes to the pantry will be served regardless if they live in Englewood or not, said Chrism.
"But those who live in the 60636 zip code will be served first. This was Roses zip code when they stayed in Englewood," added Chisum.
Those looking to take advantage of the food pantry must show a valid identification card, such as a driver's license or state I.D., and food is not the only thing offered either.
Those going to the pantry also have an opportunity to attend worship service, which begins at 9:30 a.m. and to receive free clothes and toys.
"We are required by God to give them [people who come to the pantry] the tools they need to do things the right way, and that is what we try to do," Chisum said.