The police shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo has sparked anger and frustration in the community with one organization in Little Village hoping to get teens away from a life of gangs and violence.
A group of young men and women helped to distribute food to families in need three times a week near 27th Street and Lawndale Avenue as part of a program with New Life Centers in Little Village.
Sal Rosas, one of the workers, told NBC 5 that he came to the center more than four years ago.
“To be honest, like, I was very stuck in a mindset always on the streets,” Rosas said.
Rosas is part of the mentoring program, which he said has changed his life.
“It’s really helped me,” he said. “I was lost for a long time and then he’s [mentor] always one phone call away if I’m in trouble or need somebody to talk to late at night.”
New Life Centers in Little Village offers a number of different programs, including street intervention. Outreach workers hit the streets several nights a week trying to engage with young men who may need extra guidance and support.
“Not everybody has an older brother, an uncle, a father in the picture so we kinda fill that role in the community when need be,” said street outreach worker Taulino Vargas.
Vargas, like many others in the community, is heartbroken after hearing about the death of 13-year-old Adam Toledo, who was shot and killed by police during a confrontation in an alley in Little Village more than a week ago.
“One of the young hearts, one of the young members of our community lost his life without us being able to service him,” said street outreach coordinator Aaron Rivas.
While the public waits for the Civilian Office of Police Accountability to release body camera video of the incident, Rivas said the center’s work continues. He’s urging people to join their mission to prevent another death.
“I pray that something good comes out of this,” Rivas said. “I tell everybody that God turns miseries into miracles.”