ENGLEWOOD — An Englewood organization is trying to shake the stigma that the country has placed on its community.
“I believe in positioning Englewood publicly to say, we are not how we’re portrayed in the media, but we are a community that’s trying to work together to do good things,” said Perry Gunn, Teamwork Englewood's executive director. His organization works to bring together community groups that serve Englewood.
The group hosted its first Making a Difference Awards ceremony Thursday night, to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of its Quality of Life plan and honor more than 60 individuals and community organizations that have made a positive impact on Englewood.
The ceremony at Kennedy-King College was sold out and was attended by several elected officials who are considered "friends of Englewood."
Back in 2005, Teamwork Englewood met with more than 600 stakeholders to create the Quality of Life plan for Englewood. Those individuals were able to share their vision for the community and address which areas they wanted to focus on.
The resulting plan detailed 10 strategies, which include areas such as education, housing, economic development, safety, health and urban agriculture.
Gunn said that since the plan’s inception, there have been many improvements.
“We’ve had several groups who have actually put in the time and real work to establish an urban agriculture district where there are farmer's markets," he said. "The community has access to fresh produce, and that was just something that wasn’t there 10 years ago.”
In April, the group organized a "clean and green" event.
Other people and organizations have worked with the community’s youths and created “safe havens” for them.
Gunn said the awards ceremony is something he's wanted since he joined Teamwork Englewood.
“I was asking the question, 'Have we taken time to recognize some of these community leaders?,' because a lot of time, they don’t get recognized. They do great work and nobody ever pauses to say, ‘Job well done,’ so this is really the first time we’ve done something like this and there is a lot of excitement about it,” he said.
He said he believes Thursday's event will send a message to Chicago.
“It sends the message that Englewood can come together, we can work together, we can partner together, we can collaborate to make this neighborhood a better place to live, better place to work and a better place to do business,” Gunn said.
“It’s not just about recognizing people, but it’s about building the infrastructure to continue planning and working together to get us to the finish line. We have a long way to go to get Englewood back to where it was and this is just one event that happens to be a momentum driver.”
The group plans to hold a meeting this summer to discuss quality of life issues, although an exact date has not been determined yet.
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