Nobel Neighbors returns to its roots

Nobel Neighbors returns to its roots
West Humboldt Park, Chicago Il. May 31, 2014
Nobel Neighbors, a long standing community organizing group serving West Humboldt Park residents, is refocusing on its founding mission to provide a safe environment and opportunities for the neighborhood’s youth.

“Nobel Neighbors was originally founded to reclaim the blocks immediately surrounding the Nobel Elementary School [4127 W. Hirsch St.], from gang activity,” said long-time board member and community resident Jim Lundeen. “In the mid-1990’s, Nobel Neighbors added housing development to our organizing work to take on problems with abandoned buildings and shoddy practices by FHA lenders. In 2008, we put further emphasis on housing work to support our community through the economic crisis. Now that the housing market has stabilized and the community has larger community organizations solely focused on housing as deep, reliable resources, Nobel Neighbors can refocus on its roots – the community and its children.”

According to Antwan McHenry, a community resident and Board member, “During an extensive program review with the Chicago Police Department’s “A Force for Good” initiative, Nobel Neighbors’ Board took a fresh look at the key issues facing West Humboldt Park today with an eye to understanding where Nobel Neighbors could have the most impact.”

Jennifer Dixon, Nobel Neighbors Board Chairman, said “We felt that we had an opportunity to do more to meet the organization’s founding objectives and determined that supporting the community’s schools – Alfred Nobel Elementary School and West Park Academy- would both return us to our mission and give us the best chance to make a difference in the community. We have worked closely and openly with the administration of both institutions to outline a strategy that will fit with their goals and help them meet their most urgent needs. We expect to see several initiatives come to fruition with the schools over the next year.”

“Even as we move into a direction that focuses on our founding objectives, we recognize there are broader issues that affect our neighborhood.” said Bill Smiljanich, community activist, property owner, and Board Member. “We believe that engaging and organizing with the parents and students of our local schools allows us to deeply connect to the broader issues and initiatives of our neighborhood. Additionally, our organization is looking to reconnect with old projects that have taken on lives of their own and have made a significant impact on the community, such as the Children’s Garden of Hope, which exists because of Nobel Neighbors.”

“We fundamentally believe that investing in our children is an investment for the future, so we are refocusing to more effectively support the community’s schools and creating environments within which neighborhood kids can engage in safe recreational activities. Nobel Neighbors’ goal is give each child an opportunity to reach their full potential, regardless of income or race,” said Dixon. Antwan McHenry said, “I grew up in this neighborhood. I live and work here for a reason. I want to see this neighborhood and its residents thrive. I know that as a kid, the opportunities that Nobel Neighbors gave me opened my eyes to a world beyond drugs and gangs, which is why I support and have advocated for continuing and expanding our traditional focus on kids.”


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