CHATHAM — Jahmal Cole said he believes in leading by example, which is why he shoveled sidewalks for free in Chatham on Monday.
The "My Block, My Hood, My City" group founder spent $250 on 10 shovels and invited people to come help him clear the sidewalks for senior citizens. He and two volunteers started on 79th Street and headed south on Michigan Avenue, ending at 83rd Street. After receiving requests from Facebook, the small group also traveled to other blocks, including 8800 South Indiana Avenue, on Monday.
“Chatham is like 60 something percent seniors, so I figured why not do it here,” Cole said.
“Ask not what Rahm Emanuel can do for you, but what can you do for your city,” he said, putting a twist on former President John Kennedy’s famous line.
Residents appreciated the free service and called it a great idea.
“I think it’s just great to see young men out here giving back,” said Barbara Stewart, who has lived in her home for more than 25 years.
“I think that in general Jahmal has really good intentions,” said Roosevelt Vonil. “He’s trying to provide whatever services he can for the community, and since I’ve known him that’s been his position on things.”
Cole’s work in the community caught the attention of East Chicago, Ind., resident Hector Delarosa. He traveled to Chatham on his off day from work to help.
“I think it’s really great what he’s trying to do,” he said.
Another volunteer, Bucktown resident Casey Merchant, has participated in other group rallies.
“I love everything My Block, My Hood, My City stands for,” said Merchant, 25. “It’s about taking ownership of your neighborhood, your streets. We don’t have to wait for the government or someone else to make change, you just do it yourself.”
Cole says the ultimate goal is to have his explorers — the teens he usually explores the city with — form street teams and come shovel the snow. The reaction he got on the first day was “awesome,” so he can’t wait to bring more people together and cover more blocks.
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