ENGLEWOOD — A group of pastors in Englewood are hoping their annual youth awards program will overshadow the violence plaguing their community.
The nonprofit Pastors of Englewood are hosting the 20th Annual Community Prayer Breakfast & Awards Ceremony from 8:30 a.m. to noon on June 8 at Greater Salem Baptist Church, 215 W. 71st St.
Tickets are $25 and proceeds will be used to award 10 fifth- through 12th-graders a certificate of recognition, a Bible and $50, said the Rev. St. John Chisum, chairman of the Pastors of Englewood and pastor of Gifts From God Ministry, 1818 W. 74th St.
The event was attended by 300 people last year, organizers said.
"All I ever see on TV is the shootings and murders but never the good things Englewood possesses. This awards ceremony showcases some of the good things about Englewood like our youth," Chisum said. "I don't want to brag but we have had quite a few youth from here go on to become successful individuals. People like Derrick Rose, Jennifer Hudson and [the late] Bernie Mac."
In fact, Brenda Rose, the Bulls superstar's mom, runs the Uncle Shack Food Blessing food pantry out of Chisum's church.
"She supports what we are trying to do and that's save our youth," added Chisum. "She has supported our efforts with financial contributions before."
All youth honored were nominated by an Englewood church for their community service work, said Rev. Willard Payton, co-chairman of the Pastors of Englewood and pastor of New Birth Church of God in Christ.
The keynote speaker for the event is an Englewood native. He is Curtis Wilson, an alumnus of Paul Robeson High School and now a sophomore at Rust College in Holly Springs, Miss.
Ald. Toni Foulkes (15th) is one of five aldermen whose ward runs through Englewood.
"The pastors in Englewood are a group of community leaders who want to bring improvement to the area and I am all for that," Foulkes said. "By highlighting the achievements of our youth it encourages them to never forget where you came from."
Until 2008 the annual event had honored adults only.
"Community leaders were telling us we need to concentrate on uplifting our youth since they are the ones being shot up on the streets, not the adults," recalled Chisum, an Englewood pastor for 15 years. "From then on, we shifted our attention to youth and that is where it will stay."