On Dec. 2nd, the Art Center at Precious Blood will be hosting a reception for our newest exhibit – a photo gallery of guys who, though incarcerated for decades, are doing incredible work trying to change how the world sees them and others like them. Most of them will be present, sharing their stories and the issues that they’re involved in within the justice system. I know you’d love to meet some of our newest returning citizens too!
December 2nd, 2018
11:30 AM Mass at 5114 S. Elizabeth
Photo Exhibit & Reception
1:00pm – 4:00pm
1238 w 51st ST
“Art on 51st”
Photos by Brother Juan Acuna
OCTOBER 11, 2018|
llinois has been making moves toward reducing incarceration, but there is a large group of people who are being left behind. People like twenty-one-year-old Joe Montgomery, who have been sentenced with Class X felonies, make up almost a third of Illinois’ prison population, according to the Illinois Department of Corrections. Some say these individuals who need the most help are instead left with few options but prison. City Bureau reporters Sajedah Al-khzaleh and Bia Medious spoke with Montgomery’s friends and family about the hole his absence means to his community.
Click the link below to see the full article and hear the interview.
Photo provided by St. Laurence Sports Media Club
Article by Pat Disabato of Daily Southtown
Kendell Spearment isn’t sure what his life would be like if he had remained in Englewood with his mother and two younger siblings.
But he had seen enough — one older brother killed, the other in jail — to realize he needed a change of scenery to have a chance.
“I knew I didn’t want to get caught up with anything,” Spearment said. “You have some friends who want you to go down the wrong path with them. I never wanted to be in that life.”
He has created a better life at St. Laurence — with the love and care of some amazing people.
Whether Spearment could have outrun the trouble that plagues Englewood is another matter.
The fact that he’s at St. Laurence is improbable — some might suggest it’s an act of God.
Spearment’s local church, Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation, offered him the chance of a lifetime four years ago.
The church, according to the Rev. David Kelly asked him to choose a private high school to attend away from the violence of Englewood.
“Kendell was part of our summer program,” Kelly said. “We saw a young man who could have gone the wrong way and be influenced by the streets. If we didn’t do anything, he might have followed the same path as his brothers. But we also saw a young man who had tremendous potential.”
The hope was a private school would provide a safe haven, allowing Spearment to flourish academically and athletically.
“The church allowed me to get me out of the environment I was in,” Spearment said. “Coming to St. Laurence changed my life.”
In more ways than just having a safe school to attend.
Getting to and from school, living in one of Chicago’s most dangerous neighborhoods, would have been challenging.
No one knows that better than Spearment.
One of his older brothers, Korry Rogers, was fatally shot on Sept. 4, 2016 at age 19. His death was ruled a homicide.
That date used to be a day of celebration — it’s also Kendell’s birthday. Now it’s a day of mourning.
“It hurts me on that day,” Spearment said. “My brother always wanted me to do the right thing. He was happy I was at St. Laurence.”
Another older brother, Kerry Rogers is incarcerated for murder. He’s serving a 38-year sentence at Menard Correctional Center.
“He tells me to keep my grades up and to keep doing what I’m doing,” Spearment said of Kerry. “To never follow the wrong path.”
Roshonda Booker and her family made certain Spearment avoided that path. Booker is a teacher at Arthur A. Libby Elementary School in Chicago. She taught Kendell, Korry and Kerry.
Booker knew for Kendell to thrive, he couldn’t call Englewood home.
Roshonda and David Booker graciously accepted Spearment into their home. Roshonda’s two sons, Justin and Christian, attended St. Laurence. She believed the school would be a good fit.
“In eighth grade, I thought Kendell would be a target if he stayed in Englewood,” Booker said. “People wanted to get back at him for what his brother (Kerry) did.
“Kendell was different. You saw the potential in him. He just needed a chance. He needed to be shown something different.”
What the Bookers showed Spearment was family structure and discipline. And, yes, love. Things he desperately needed.
“We try to teach him like our other two children to be good people, to honor your word, be respectful to others and to be a gentlemen,” Booker said. “Kendell continues to grow as a person. I’m very proud of him.”
St. Laurence coach Harold Blackmon is proud of the person Spearment has become.
“The Bookers allowed Kendell to experience life outside of Englewood,” Blackmon said. “They’re amazing people. Kendell has been through a lot in life. That he shows up with a smile on his face every day is nothing short of amazing.”
Spearment has much to smile about these days. His grades are in good standing, and he has been getting feelers to play college football.
“A few Division II schools have shown interest,” Blackmon said. “He’s going to play football somewhere. He’s a hard worker and our best tackler.”
Spearment is beyond thankful to those who have put him on this path to success. He wants to study criminal justice and enjoy a career in law enforcement — like David Booker, who works at the Cook County Sheriff’s Department.
“The Bookers have done so much for me,” Spearment said. “They’re like a mother and father to me. Coach Blackmon is an awesome person. It’s because of all of them and the church that I’m in this position.
“I’ve learned what’s right and what’s wrong. I’ve learned to help each other out, to be a leader. I want to go on and do great things.”
See full article HERE
A READER article by Marissa De La Cerda
Art by Eric Anderson courtesy of Prison And Neighborhood Arts Project (PNAP)
When people think of prisoners, they often think of people who committed horrible crimes and deserve to rot away in jail. They’re less likely to think about the emotional, familial, and social consequences of long-term sentences, some as lengthy as 70 or 80 years.
The Prison and Neighborhood Arts Project (PNAP) seeks to connect prisoners at Stateville Correctional Center, near Joliet, to the outside world by offering humanities courses in which inmates work with artists and scholars to create projects that educate the public on topics that normally stay behind prison walls. In this case, the topic is long-term sentencing.
“The Long Term,” the latest exhibition created by PNAP, utilizes different media to raise awareness about long-term sentencing policies and the effects they have on inmates. “This has been a two-year project where we think about long-term sentencing,” says Sarah Ross, codirector of arts and exhibitions for PNAP. “We encouraged the teachers to come up with assignments in their classes surrounding the impact of long-term sentencing, focusing not only on the sentencing policy itself but the effects it has on people.”
The exhibition includes a 13-minute hand-drawn animation made by artists who are serving long-term sentences. In the video, the artists combine personal narratives and research to describe the severity and impact of long-term sentencing, for example, the loss of connection to family members and friends and the struggle of raising kids from inside prison walls. The video also takes notice of the hardships that inmates face after being released, such as struggling to reconnect with family after years away.
Other pieces in the exhibition include video interviews with inmates about the effects of long-term sentencing and another with a mother about raising a son who’s serving a life sentence. The interviews offer more insight into how inmates are affected by these sentences, whether it be positive, like the bonds formed in prison, or negative, like the structural inequities faced after prison when struggling to find housing or employment.
Damon Locks, a visual artist and codirector of art and exhibitions for PNAP, says that though long-term sentencing policies are discussed in the media, the effects on the inmates and their families need to be addressed too. “A lot of people don’t think about how long-term sentencing creates a long-term struggle for freedom and a long-term loss in communities.”
The exhibit opened at the Washington Park Arts Incubator on Friday, September 21, and inspired a discussion among visitors about the reality of long-term sentencing and the importance of education to keep the inmates feeling connected to the community.
“One of the drivers behind this is trying to build knowledge about things that usually stay behind a wall,” says Ross. “Our project is trying to use art as a way to ask questions and build knowledge about things that keep us so segregated.”
Read the Full READER article here
Dear Friends of PBMR,
The fall air is upon us. That can only mean one thing – the PBMR Fall Fundraiser!
So we are inviting you to join us on October 14th for an 11:30 Mass followed by a Taco Fiesta! We are inviting our friends, supporters and community families hoping to build deeper relationships while sharing our PBMR stories, our good news as well as our needs.
We are continuing the theme of Restoring Family and one of the ways you can partner in restoring the families within our community is through supporting our rehab project. We recently purchased a house on 51st street right across from the Center and are looking to restore it to the beauty, no doubt, it once had. It had been abandoned for years, but now we have the opportunity to create something new at 1246 W. 51st St.
Our plan is to offer short-term emergency housing to those facing homelessness. Day after day we see the need. Added to our excitement is the opportunity for our youth to work side by side with skilled laborers who will mentor and train them in construction skills (electrical, plumbing, etc.) – a classroom of sorts.
I am convinced, more now than ever, that family is at the center of any community. If we are going to support our youth and work for a safer and healthier community, we have to tend to the needs of the family. We cannot do everything, but we can do something. We can be the “neighbor in the hood”.
Of course, we cannot do this alone. We are asking for your generous support. If you are able, please join us on the 14th of October for this Fall Fundraiser. It will be a great time. You will see our youth demonstrating their silk-screening skills or in their carpentry shop; you will see our beautiful vegetable garden or you can sit in our Peace Garden. AND you will also see our newly purchased house in whatever stage of rehabbing it may be on October 14th.
If you cannot be with us, please consider donating to our effort. You can send a check or go on our fundraising website www.restoringfamily.mydagsite.com and donate.
“Restoring Family” is about walking alongside and offering a shoulder when necessary. It is about creating an environment of beauty where families can thrive and their children can grow up in safety, knowing they are loved, have the basics and are protected.
Thanks for your ongoing support. We hope you will be able to join us on Sunday, October 14th.
Buy Tickets HERE
Hoops in the Hood made the News! CBS 2 Chicago covered the story.
CHICAGO (CBS) — Four hundred boys and girls, multiple basketball courts downtown and a life saving mission.
On Thursday, the final game of the Hoops in the Hood Tournament was played.
CBS 2’s Jim Williams followed one team and the important work they’re doing away from the court.
Check out the full story by clicking the link below