“By simply spreading the word of what we are doing with buildOn,
you can help change the image of Chicago’s youth
from gangbangers to change makers.”
– Cristian Uribe
One day, during his freshman year of high school, Cristian Uribe was attacked. Four men followed him from school, robbed him, beat him, and left him lying on the ground with a fractured jaw.
This type of violent event is hardly unusual in many Chicago neighborhoods. Last school year alone, 319 Chicago Public School students were shot. Twenty-four of those shooting were fatal, most were gang related. In Cristian’s neighborhood of McKinley Park the Satan Counts and Latin Disciples rule, but Cristian doesn’t know for sure who jumped him – it all happened so fast. He only knew that they wanted what little money he had, so they took it.
Over time, Cristian’s physical wounds healed, but he was left with anger and a desire for retaliation. Then, around that same time, a friend suggested he come to a buildOn meeting. Prior to his tragedy, Cristian hadn’t been involved in service and was skeptical that he could make any difference in his community, but by volunteering he began to see another side of his community and himself.
“Before, I noticed problems in Chicago, but I didn’t bother to try and help because I thought I was powerless, so I only focused on myself and no one else,” said Cristian. “Honestly, at first I only went to buildOn because I didn’t have anything else to do, but after the first time I didn’t want the day to end.”
“At first I only went to buildOn because I didn’t have anything else to do, but after the first time I didn’t want the day to end.”
One winter day, Cristian and his buildOn program created care packages for the homeless that included gloves, warm hats, socks, food and personal hygiene products. As Cristian walked throughout the Loop delivering his packages to men and women panhandling on street corners, or huddled from the wind in cold, frozen alleys he began to think about the depth of poverty in his city. He had conversations with each individual he helped and realized that people sometimes do desperate things when they have nothing.
“The anger I had towards the people that hurt me, has now turned to sadness for them,” said Cristian. He explained that he feels bad for the people who mugged him and for what they might have been going through to bring them to such a violent place, but that he wants to change how youth react to the problems in their neighborhoods.
“Being a teen in Chicago is very challenging due to violence in our city,” said Cristian. “But not all teenagers in Chicago are trouble makers or are in gangs. Being in buildOn helps me change the minds of those who think we are bad teenagers. It helps us change the statistics and demonstrate to everyone that there are teenagers in Chicago who are good hearted. That we will change our city.”
With your support we can empower many more students like Cristian, students who are poised to change their lives, their communities and our world.
Posted May 22, 2013 in Stories by buildOn