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Promoting Change Can Transform Our Neighborhoods

Updated on September 8, 2020
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Claudette Carter has been a writer for more than 30 years. Graduated from Widener University and enjoys focusing on positive things in life.

Teens In Chicago Transform A Liquor Store Into A Grocery Market

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Azaria Baker was one of the students who worked diligently to transform a liquor store into a thriving grocery market where fresh food can be purchased.Keith Tankson also worked with Azaria to bring a desperately needed fresh food market into their Chicago neighborhood which replaced a liquor store.Tony Dokoupil a news anchors on CBS This Morning featured a series on Fueling Change with interviews of young black people opening a fresh grocery market which replaced a liquor store. Professional athletes donated money to get this project started.Former Chicago Bears Sam Ocho was one of the athletes who donated money to bring the first fresh grocery market to a black neighborhood in Chicago. He worked with students who run the store.Donita Travis runs “By The Hand Club” who tried to close down that liquor store for ten years because there were already so many within that neighborhood but no fresh grocery market. She worked with the young people to get this market established.News correspondent Adriana Diaz of CBS This Morning did a touching interview with Azaria and Keith regarding their accomplishments by bringing the first fresh grocery market to their Chicago neighborhood.After the death of George Floyd riots and looting in major cities like Chicago had a detrimental impact on many black communities.
Azaria Baker was one of the students who worked diligently to transform a liquor store into a thriving grocery market where fresh food can be purchased.
Azaria Baker was one of the students who worked diligently to transform a liquor store into a thriving grocery market where fresh food can be purchased. | Source
Keith Tankson also worked with Azaria to bring a desperately needed fresh food market into their Chicago neighborhood which replaced a liquor store.
Keith Tankson also worked with Azaria to bring a desperately needed fresh food market into their Chicago neighborhood which replaced a liquor store.
Tony Dokoupil a news anchors on CBS This Morning featured a series on Fueling Change with interviews of young black people opening a fresh grocery market which replaced a liquor store. Professional athletes donated money to get this project started.
Tony Dokoupil a news anchors on CBS This Morning featured a series on Fueling Change with interviews of young black people opening a fresh grocery market which replaced a liquor store. Professional athletes donated money to get this project started. | Source
Former Chicago Bears Sam Ocho was one of the athletes who donated money to bring the first fresh grocery market to a black neighborhood in Chicago. He worked with students who run the store.
Former Chicago Bears Sam Ocho was one of the athletes who donated money to bring the first fresh grocery market to a black neighborhood in Chicago. He worked with students who run the store. | Source
Donita Travis runs “By The Hand Club” who tried to close down that liquor store for ten years because there were already so many within that neighborhood but no fresh grocery market. She worked with the young people to get this market established.
Donita Travis runs “By The Hand Club” who tried to close down that liquor store for ten years because there were already so many within that neighborhood but no fresh grocery market. She worked with the young people to get this market established. | Source
News correspondent Adriana Diaz of CBS This Morning did a touching interview with Azaria and Keith regarding their accomplishments by bringing the first fresh grocery market to their Chicago neighborhood.
News correspondent Adriana Diaz of CBS This Morning did a touching interview with Azaria and Keith regarding their accomplishments by bringing the first fresh grocery market to their Chicago neighborhood. | Source
After the death of George Floyd riots and looting in major cities like Chicago had a detrimental impact on many black communities.
After the death of George Floyd riots and looting in major cities like Chicago had a detrimental impact on many black communities. | Source

Teens In Chicago Transform A Liquor Store Into a Desperately Needed Fresh Market

Each of us can promote positive change within our neighborhood. We want to see improvement within the areas where we reside. I am determined to share encouraging Bible based scriptures to inspire individuals to show love toward others just as 1John 3:18 states, “Little children we should love, not in word or with the tongue, but in deed and truth.” (New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures) When we express that love we can promote positive changes not only in our neighborhoods but throughout the world. That was proven by the efforts of professional athletes who donated millions of dollars to bring a desperately needed fresh food market to a neighborhood in Chicago where none existed. An abundance of liquor stores did exist within this economically deprived area.

Tony Dokoupil discussed, “Our Series A More Perfect Union aims to show that what unites us as Americans is far greater than what divides us. The death of #George Floyd this year set off weeks of protests and unrest in cities all across the country. Chicago was no exception. Adriana Diaz shows us how one group of teenagers there turned their anger into action and transformed a looted liquor store into something their community needed. Adriana stated, “This summer’s #unrest in Chicago folowing the killing of George Floyd left many young people feeling lost. One student said, ‘I really felt cornered and confused as to why l couldn’t be part of the change l wanted to see.‘ Adriana continued by explaining, “To help 15 year old friends Azaria Baker and Keith Tankson turned to their after school program By The Hand Club For Kids which organizes listening circles with mentors like former Chicago Bears Sam Ocho.”

What positive developments could arise out of so much destruction and despair as residents of this Chicago community looked on? Sam Ocho explained with a smile, “The conversation revolved a lot around despair. It was almost like they were being devalued not only with seeing the rioting and the looting that ensued.” Adriana excitedly mentioned, “Out of the destruction they saw an opportunity. Build a fresh food market where a looted liquor store use to stand.”

Two young school students made this a reality with the help of others. A young black man named Keith Tankson explained, “My neighborhood is a food desert. lt’s also twelve liquor stores in a one mile radius. You have to go a mile and a half just to see a fresh food market.” Azaria, a young black high school student and a friend of Keith stated, “You would think that a grocery store in your community would be like a basic necessity but that’s not for us.”

Adriana acknowledged the cost of this dream, “But the project would be half a million dollars so #Ocho enlisted fourteen other athletes to help.” With a brillant smile and a pure source of light in his eyes Ocho said, “Guys donated anywhere from $1,000 to $100,000. Yes. Yes. Yes.” The young man Keith Tankson almost in tears said, “It was a great feeling. Azaria teases Keith and ask, “Oh my God are you crying?” Adriana comes to his defense with excitement and laughter as she says, “No. He’s just excited.” Azaria jokingly said, “Oh really.”

Donita Travis runs #By The Hand Club. She tried for more ten years to close that liquor store which is now a fresh food market in the community. Adriana asked, “How did you feel when you saw it all come down?” Donita smiled with a sense of pride and went on to explain, “I’m telling you it was one of the best days in my life. The kids they have been through so much over the last five months. They want to show everyone that there is positive things happening in this community. The kids studied and realized that this type of project would provide economic status for our youth.”

Adriana said that the kids, “Also studied pricing and marketing to be ready for opening day.” The young people rejoiced as they displayed fresh fruits and vegetables in their new market. A band played jazz music on opening day as well. Adriana asked Keith, “Does it make you feel like you can do anything?” Keith responded, “Really, yes. The sky is not the limit. The stars not the limit.” Adriana said, “For twelve weeks the students will work the market after school and it pays well. How does that feel?” Keith became emotional and almost in tears again responded, “You gonna make me act up on camera man.“ Adriana, Keith and Azaria laughed together. Adriana went on to ask, “And how important is it to have economic opportunities and jobs in areas where there aren’t enough?” Azaria explained, ”It’s incredibly powerful. People who have economic status stepped in and that helped us to get this achieved. Now we are giving people in our community economic status and with that we can do anything.” Adriana agreed, “And the community is thankful.“ She asked one woman who was shopping in the new market, “Can you believe where we are standing use to be a liquor store?“ The woman responde, “Oh, l cannot believe that its gonna turn out finally to something beautiful in life.” Adriana concluded the interview by stating, “A neighborhood in need nurishing itself.”

Anchors Gayle King, Tony Dokoupil and Anthony Mason wholeheartedly agreed about the work these young people had achieved along with others to help their community. With a broad smle of approval Gayle mentioned, “What a great feeling to be a teenager and think the sky is not the limit. Stars is not the limit. People go their wole lives and don’t get that feeling. So bravo, bravo for that.” Tony ageed as he stated, “And then to have a job after school that’s not only good for your neighborhood but it’s putting money in your pocket.“ Anthony chimed in with his accolades as well, “Every way around it’s so impressive what they have done.” Gayle commends the athletes that were also involved, “I’m looking at Sam Ocho going well number one. Ocho name is familiar to us because of Emmanuel Ocho with the knockout #podcast with uncomfortable conversations with the black man. They kinda look alike, sound alike why because they’re brothers. That kind of goodness runs in their family. Very well done.” Anthony agreed once again, “And it’s amazing what all those athletes did to kick in.” Gayle summed it up by saying, “Very well done.”




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Lower Merion's team gather with their coach for instructions.Pennsylvania Cable Network aired Chester High's Championship Game
Lower Merion's team gather with their coach for instructions.
Lower Merion's team gather with their coach for instructions. | Source
Pennsylvania Cable Network aired Chester High's Championship Game
Pennsylvania Cable Network aired Chester High's Championship Game

Chester High Is In the Spotlight For Winning Eight State Championships

Where you reside, should never have an impact on your accomplishments. Sure, it helps when we reside in the lap of luxury within a secured location, where our desires beyond the necessities such as food, clothing, and shelter are fulfilled. Our private and #public schools are ranked among the highest in the nation. We lack for nothing. The world can be ours if we decide that is our desire. But what about our neighbor, only a few minutes away?

The city of Chester is located in Pennsylvania and is preeminently known for its violence, often leaving the shed blood of its young people in the streets. The educational structure of the school district is in "complete disarray," although it struggles to survive battles of drugs and crime that the city is constantly confronted with. An article within The Republic expressed concern about the possible closing of Chester's school system previously stated, "Chester Upland is among the poorest school districts in Pennsylvania and get about 70 percent of its budget from the state. It threatened to shut down in January because it had run out of funds, and district officials filed a federal lawsuit to force the state to spend more money." With these sources of low self-esteemed news related articles along with #educational deprivation, Chester Upland's students, found the incentive, within themselves to rise and be acknowledged as successful people who can win.

Chester High's Clippers continued its victorious pattern as a winner of the #PIAA, Quad A, State Championship. This team resonated with excitement, as it accomplished for the first time in Pennsylvania's state's history, eight championships. The Clippers were impelled with a determination to work diligently to obtain this goal. Chester clearly exhibited this stamina against Lower Merion, where they ran their opponents up and down the floor until they prevailed. What a magnificent group effort, by the team, coaching staff, vibrant cheerleaders, parents and the Chester community.

The Halftime Statistics Gave Chester's Fans Hope

The game was intense from the beginning as Chester High initiated its run, against Lower Merion, right up to halftime. Their score of 22 to their opponent's 16, gave Chester a lead of 6 points. Number 23, Rondae Jefferson, led his team by scoring 5 points at this time in the game. Would Lower Merion's D.J. Johnson, number 35 and his team members be able to redeem themselves in the third quarter?

Third Quarter Anticipation Was Rampant Throughout the Stadium

The unease of fans existed on both ends of Penn State University's stadium. Would the Clippers, suddenly become fatigued and stop their running game, giving Lower Merion the opportunity to revitalize themselves? With 3:42 seconds remaining in the third quarter, Chester Clippers were still in the lead with more than 9 points. There was a glimpse of hope for Lower Merion when there was 2:17 seconds remaining, and the score was 25, Lower Merion and 32 for Chester, with only a seven-point lead. At this point, Rondae Jefferson had a total of seven points. It was obvious, the Clippers came to win.

Developments of the Fourth Quarter as Chester High Wins

With less than six minutes in the fourth quarter, Richard Granberry, number 32, missed a foul shot. Chester's fans were still inundated with the hope of a victory. Lower Merion, had the reputation and history to capture the support of the media. After all, this was the high school that Colby Bryant, of the Los Angeles Lakers, attended years ago. Lower Merion is still recognized for their famous alumni. Yet, they were on the ropes. In the fourth quarter with 3 minutes remaining, the score was 45 to 33, with Chester winning. A fan within the audience gladly held a sign up that said, "All we do is win championships." It was a defensive struggle all the way because Lower Merion played well defensively. Suddenly, Chester Clippers were 26 seconds away from making history, by becoming the first team to win eight championships within their division. The final score was 51 points by Chester and 33 points for Lower Merion. The crowd was completely in an uproar as Chester High School Clippers became the winningest program in the history of Pennsylvania. They had once again beaten all odds against them and descended for the ashes of environmental failure. Never allowing the city they came from to hinder their success. Congratulations to Chester High School's, PIAA, Quad A, State Champions.

Within the Same Week, Chester Upland's School District Had Another Victory

It was a little discouraging to hear First Lady, Michelle Obama, admit that the City of Chester did not have a grocery market within its city limits. During a recent television interview, she expressed concern about how parents from Chester would have to catch various forms of public transportation just to purchase fresh vegetable for their families. The daunting thought of that sad predicament could appear hopeless. However, hope resonated in Chester again, when students from the school district were invited to the White House. Stacy A. Anderson, of theAssociated Press, wrote in an article entitled, Chester Students Join First Lady #Michelle Obama to Plant White House Garden. Within this article, she mentioned how, "the first lady was helped by schools from New York, Pennsylvania and North Carolina in planting potatoes, spinach, broccoli, carrots, radishes and onions at her fourth annual spring planting." Mrs. Obama continued to express how "the kitchen garden is part of her Let's Move! Initiative to spark discussion about healthy eating habits for children." The voices of Chester's youth echoed with sounds of joy and pure elation because they were invited to be a part of this historical event where it was acknowledged that, Mrs. Obama's, "vegetable garden is the first at the executive mansion since Eleanor Roosevelt's Victory Garden." The fact that students were invited to be a part of this event, once again proves that your location or city you reside in should never have a negative effect on the success you can obtain. We can evolve from the worst locations and aspire to greatness.

Never would we want to just give ourselves the credit for these achievements. We should try to think about the one who gave us the breath of life to accomplish these things. The scripture at 1 Corinthians 1:27-30, beautifully summarizes how we should feel when we are successful beyond our expectations, "but God chose the foolish things of the world, that he might put the wise men to shame; and God chose the weak things of the world, that he might put the strong things to shame; and God chose the ignoble things of the world and the things looked down upon, the things that are not, that he might bring to nothing the things that are, in order that no flesh might boast in the sight of God. But it is due to him that you are in union with Christ Jesus, who has become to us wisdom from God, also righteousness and sanctification and release by ransom;" The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures What encouraging thoughts each of us can meditate on daily.

Rondae Jefferson is interviewed after winning championship.
Rondae Jefferson is interviewed after winning championship. | Source
The Clipper's determination to get their rebounds, was helpful in their win over Lower Merion.
The Clipper's determination to get their rebounds, was helpful in their win over Lower Merion. | Source
Larry Yarbray, Coach of the Chester High Clippers Basketball Team.
Larry Yarbray, Coach of the Chester High Clippers Basketball Team.

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