Family and Child Wellness Coordinator
A native Chicagoan and an Englewood resident, Karen is pursuing an Associate’s degree in Social Work at Kennedy King College. With six children, 18 grandchildren, one great grandchild, and 24 years of marriage, Karen lives her passion for spreading family wellness and helping children fulfill their potential. She has volunteered at Parker Community Academy for the past 14 years on the Parent Advisory Council and is a Local School Council member. For over a decade, she has facilitated parent workshops and support groups, including with the Black Parenting with Respect, Order, Understanding, and Discipline (BE-PROUD) curriculum. At IGC’s Peace House, Karen oversees case management for children and families and runs our Life After School program.
Community Building Events Planner
Lyen is a long-time resident of Englewood full of life. He is motivated by his strong faith, which carries him through hardships. Before his fiancé was killed, he told him that he belonged with I Grow Chicago. Lyen took these words to heart and now works to bring beauty and togetherness by organizing community events. Through I Grow Chicago, he also completed his Kai Chi Do training, which he teaches to children during our Life After School program.
Delois Steward has been a resident of Englewood for over 48 years and is deeply embedded in her community. Before coming to I Grow Chicago, she worked at the Lovable Daycare Center for 25 years. In our Peace Garden, Delois helps keep the grounds clean and beautiful as a compassionate lover of the earth.
Children’s Yoga Teacher
After moving to Chicago from Florida, J began coming to the Peace House and discovered his love of working with children. In April 2017, J traveled to Nairobi, Kenya to train in Baptiste Yoga though a partnership between I Grow Chicago and Africa Yoga Project. J now teaches our children’s yoga program and Spikeball in Englewood schools and at daycares. He is continuing his yoga education with Radiant Child Yoga.
One Breath Community Yoga Coordinator
Lauren has practiced Kundalini yoga since 2003 and has provided group, private, and workshop classes since 2006. Her focus integrates meditation, movement, breath, and sound, based on yogic principles. In 2009, she received her certificate in Thai Yoga Therapy and is a Registered Thai Therapist with the Thai Healing Alliance. Lauren believes that the practice of yoga expands our perceptions, and awareness of our inner light is the gift of our presence. She is spearheading the growth of our weekly community yoga classes at Kusanya Cafe. After finishing her prenatal yoga training, through a scholarship through I Grow Chicago’s partnership with the Amala School of Prenatal Yoga, Lauren will be developing a pre-natal yoga program at the Peace House.
Life After School Assistant
Derrick Pouncey grew up in West Englewood, attending O’Toole Elementary and John Hope College Prep. After dropping out of high school, Derrick never found a legal job until his friend brought him to our Peace House and he met founder Robbin Carroll. He immediately began participating in IGC’s programs, and he now serves as a mentor for children after school. Despite his lack of formal education, Derrick is an immensely talented writer who works to spread hope through poetry and music. In addition to his work at the Peace House, Derrick is studying for his GED. In the future, he would like to perform his writing and share his story at events and one day publish a book of poems.
Life After School Assistant
CeCe is a committed mother to her one-year-old daughter and an anti-violence activist. She helped found our weekly Women’s Group at the Peace House and organizes her friends and neighbors to bring peace. In January 2016, she spoke out about gun violence in Englewood at a rally in partnership with the Chicago Police Department and was featured in DNAinfo for her impactful words. CeCe is currently pursuing her GED with the goal of one day attending college and providing a brighter future for her daughter.
League of Learners Tutor
Shelley Gavin is our Peace House neighbor and former special education teacher. As a literacy educator with I Grow Chicago, Shelley works one-on-one with children to bring them to where they need to be with dignity and love.
Artist in Residence
Clarence Franklin has lived in Englewood his entire life and has overcome significant barriers and trauma. Until I Grow Chicago, he had never attained a legal job and held little hope for his future. However, Clarence has demonstrated incredible perseverance, resilience, and growth. Having learned how to paint and cook while incarcerated, he now uses those skills with IGC as Artist in Residence and at Kusanya Cafe as a barista. When Clarence isn’t painting positive art pieces for his community or working, he is spending time with his children.
We engage, empower, and employ Englewood residents to lead our healing programs.
It takes one seed, one step, one chance to change a person’s life. And one dollar can go a long way in helping us to make that happen.