Family and Child Wellness Coordinator
Karen works one-on-one with families, providing them with the support and resources that they need. In her time with I Grow Chicago, she has worked with countless community members, helping young men secure jobs, apply to colleges, securing safe housing for single mothers, driving people to food pantries, and more. She first heard about I Grow Chicago in 2017 when she was attending a community meeting hosted by Alderman Lopez and met our leadership team. Ever since, she has been a core member of our family, bringing her lifelong commitment to personal wellness to our Peace Campus. While Karen holds an Associate Degree in Social Work from Kennedy King College and is currently pursuing her BSW, she has been serving her community since she was a young girl, making care packages and feeding the hungry. More than a career, this is a calling for Karen. She shares: “There are things these social work books tell you not to do, certain lines that you shouldn’t cross, but if I see somebody in need, how can I refuse them?”
Life After School and Summer of Hope Program Coordinator
Patrice is the director of summer camp and our after school program. She has been with I Grow Chicago since 2016. Before coming to the Peace House, she has worn many hats over the years, working as a teacher’s aid, as a community watcher in the neighborhood making sure kids were getting to school safely, as a caregiver for newborns and elders. “These kids, they sometimes don’t have a voice or guidance and I do my best to plant a seed in them and they take that through life. I know what they go through in life and I know that sometimes they feel like they can’t trust you, so it takes time to build that trust.”
Yoga and Healing Arts 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, the Peace House, and local schools and daycares. In 2018, Lauren completed a pre- and post-natal yoga training through a scholarship with I Grow Chicago and the Amala School of Prenatal Yoga. Lauren is now developing a pre-natal yoga program on I Grow Chicago’s Peace Campus, in our Family Resource House.
Community Wellness Worker
Jesse considers Englewood his home, and he has been with I Grow Chicago for two years. He is always ready to be part of the community, helping out in whatever way he can so that the kids who grow up here can grow up carefree without any worries, so that they can ride their bikes down the block. He loves God, goodness and everything of that nature. He’s a handyman, a driver, a utility guy—whatever the Peace House needs, he’s there to be it.
Community Wellness Worker
Cece has been with I Grow since the very beginning. She grew up in Englewood, “I know the community, I have seen it change from ugly to worse to good to bad, I know what our community needs”. She is a committed mother and anti-violence activist. She helped found Women’s Group years ago, where they touch on everything from personal issues, mental wellness techniques to how to deal with sexual assault cases. Over her years with I Grow, she has been committed to bridging the divide between old and young, for more resources being poured into the community, and to continue to be a light in the community.
Shelley Gavin is our Peace House neighbor and one of our Summer of Hope counselors. She has worked as a special education teacher for 22 years. Before becoming an educator, she worked in a bank, and then in a high school. “I wear all kinds of hats. As an educator, you have to be the mom, the nurse, the psychologist, and more”. Alongside our volunteer Ms. Sharon, she helped start our Life After School tutoring program. As a literacy educator, Shelley works one-on-one with children to bring them to where they need to be with dignity and love. She hopes that the love and dignity she instills in the children will expand beyond I Grow Chicago, and beyond the community.
Izetta Robyn Robinson
Summer of Hope Counselor
Izetta moved to Englewood when she was a teenager. She was raised by her two grandmothers, and was the first in her family to graduate high school. She is a mother of three. She works with Spikeball, coordinates summer activities for the kids, and works in construction when she is not at I Grow Chicago. She was first introduced to our community as a volunteer by her sister Patrice. She is committed to black excellence and community excellence. She aims to one day run the first woman-owned construction company in Chicago.
Martell “Tellie” Collins
Summer of Hope Counselor
Tellie is our newest Summer of Hope Counselor. As a talented rapper and musician, Erin and Robbin always used to invite him to the Peace House. Although he was hesitant at first (even avoiding Erin and Robbin when they saw him outside on the block), once he came to the Peace House, he said, “it feels like one great union” and never left. He is committed to using his talents and gifts as a musician to give back to the kids and to the community. He uses music as a powerful tool of healing, encouraging kids to use music to open up, express themselves, and to reflect on their experiences. Outside of music, he also works with his grandfather in construction.
One Breath Community Yoga Teacher
E’a is a holistic artist; she turned her passions into her career as a Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Yogini & An Expressive Art & Sound Therapist. She is a naturally gifted and a trained dancer from Ballroom to Belly Dance whose partners include CPS, B.U.I.L.D, R.A.G.E, I Grow Chicago, Noah’s Arc Foundation, Afterschool Matters & Old Town School of Folk Music. She utilizes dance, art, massage therapy, gardening, yoga and drumming to heal and empower trauma impacted and underserved communities around the Chicago metro area. E’a received her RYT-200 yoga teacher certification in 2017 through I Grow Chicago’s scholarship program with Zen Yoga Garage. Since then, she has been a core teacher in our One Breath Community Yoga program.
Young Yogis Teacher
J first moved to Chicago from Florida three years ago. He first got involved by teaching yoga to older kids at the Peace House and then discovered his love of working with children. J teaches our children’s yoga program and Spikeball in Englewood schools and at daycares. He is also currently in college studying Graphic Design. He can often be seen leading yoga for the kids in our Healing Justice Court or in the Peace Garden.
Delois has been a resident of Englewood for over 48 years and is deeply embedded in our community. Before coming to I Grow Chicago, she worked at the Lovable Daycare Center for 25 years. Rain or shine, Delois can be seen working on the block every day, sweeping and raking the grounds. She picked up her first rake when she was 5 and has not put it down ever since. In our Peace Garden, Delois helps keep the grounds clean and beautiful as a compassionate lover of the earth.
D’anta came to I Grow six months ago. He is committed to healing himself so he can be a light to his brothers, his sisters and the youth in the community. He is a talented photographer working to grow his business and he is a committed father to his young baby daughter.
Community Engagement Coordinator
Peace Coleman is I Grow Chicago’s newest staff member. He has worked out of the Peace House through Alternatives over the past year as a Peace Ambassador and restorative justice circle keeper, leading healing circles in some of our most vulnerable moments, as well as facilitating and training our Wisdom Council. In doing so, he has brought hope to our community, an impact he will continue to expand in his new role as Director of Community Engagement. Coming from a history of incarceration and street life, he has made a huge change in his life and has been walking with his chosen name of Peace for two years now. He credits many of his life changes to his discovery of restorative justice. Peace is a committed father to his four children and continues to grow himself and his community.