When people debate on social media and in the news about the need for gun reform after a senseless shooting; someone always asks well what about Chicago and all the people being shot. Chicago athletes have heard it too and they are answering the question with their work in the community.
Athletes born and raised or a member of a team in Chicago are embraced by the city and considered Chicagoans. Many of those athletes have taken the challenge of supporting the community very seriously. Derrick Rose, Patrick Beverly, Dwyane Wade, Michael Jordan, Rashied Davis, Matt Forte, Jarrett Payton and Kerry Wood just to name a few have donated time and money, created foundations and organizations that will provide education, development and leadership opportunities for young people in underserved communities.
This summer a large group of athletes once again answered the question what about in Chicago when retired Chicago Bear Sam Acho joined forces with several athletes and the nonprofit, By The Hand Club for Kids to work with youth in the Austin neighborhood in Chicago. The athletes participated in healing circles, talked to youth to learn about their experiences growing up in the neighborhood, talked to the youth about some of the needs in the neighborhood and toured the neighborhood.
The group listened to the youth speak about their experiences and the idea for a grocery store was developed. This group of community-minded athletes joined together and raised $500,000 to purchase a liquor store. It was demolished, so that a grocery store could be built. Chicago Bears Quarterback, Mitchell Trubisky said that this store is going to make a big difference and that is what they want to do; come together and make a difference in the city. The group as joined by Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Police Superintendent David Brown.
The name of the open market is Austin Harvest and is staffed by some of the youth in the community. The young people took food certification classes and will receive a stipend for their work. The youth workers said they feel so blessed to be given a job and to have fresh produce in the neighborhood.
Sam Acho and friends have provided other potential investors with a blueprint on how to begin helping the community and offering opportunities to improve health, economic and youth development.
So, don’t ask this group of athletes, young people or anyone in the city what about Chicago; ask what can I do to help those in the city of Chicago?
Sam Acho, former Chicago Bears Mitchell Trubisky, Chicago Bears
Charles Leno, Chicago Bears Israel Idonije, former Chicago Bears
Ryan Pace, Chicago Bears GM Lucas Giolito, Chicago White Sox
Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks Malcom Subban, Chicago Blackhawks
Max Strus, Chicago Bulls Austin Carr, New Orleans Saints
Matt Kaskey, Carolina Panthers Tyler Lancaster, Green Bay Packers
Jimmy Murray, NY Jets
Athlete Donors To The Project
Jason Heyward, Chicago Cubs Jason Kipnis, Chicago Cubs
Ryan Arcidiacono, Chicago Bulls Chase Daniel, Detroit Lions
Nick Kwiatkoski, Las Vegas Raiders Paul Goldschmidt, St. Louis Cardinals