Endy enjoyed being physically active as a youngster. Most of all, he loved to run—every minute of every day. So when Epifanio Diaz of New Life Centers came to his school recruiting participants for the Running Forward program, the then-7th grader was on board. His sports of choice: basketball and soccer. “I always wanted to be the fastest kid,” he says. “I wanted to get to the ball quicker than anybody else.”
The mission of New Life Centers is to connect children, teens and young adults to Christ and community through mentoring, educational services, food distribution, street outreach and other programs. Endy is now a sophomore at the University of Illinois at Chicago but has returned to help out. He says “everything I learned I try to give back to youth. The small age gap makes it possible for me to easily connect and interact with them.” Endy sees his role as “giving back to the community what was once given to me.” Without New Life Centers, he says he would have missed out on a lot. “When I was a kid I just wanted to be out there playing and having a good time with other kids. I feel blessed, this is a great space.”
“My parents taught me to be respectful, but New Life reinforced those kinds of values. My relationship with New Life has been a great opportunity to grow as a person.”Aldo Vazquez
Aldo was in the same grade and started at the same time as Endy. He learned discipline at New Life Centers and conquered his shyness through sports. Epifanio says both young men learned to become soccer referees and have excelled at it. Both also ran a half-marathon. “It was fun building new relationships and experiencing things I haven’t experienced before,” says Aldo, also a UIC sophomore. “My parents taught me to be respectful, but New Life reinforced those kinds of values. My relationship with New Life has been a great opportunity to grow as a person.”
A part-timer at the center’s gym, he opens up the facility, making sure participants are drinking enough water and monitoring the younger athletes as they work out on the treadmill and other sports equipment. He is also giving back as a mentor. Aldo is proud that New Life does so much for the community he loves. “New Life is making the community stronger,” Aldo says. “They are making it safer and building a better community for kids and adults.”
Not everyone has an equal shot at the American Dream. Fortunately, there are dedicated people across Chicagoland who are committed to making sure every child and family has opportunities to achieve their goals. With your support, we can create new possibilities and help make countless dreams come true. With support from donors like you, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation invests in organizations on Chicago’s South and West sides improving the lives of children and families each and every day.