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Homicide victim’s mother sees progress in Englewood

Christopher Reeves’ younger brother Jermaine Reeves dedicated himself to “making Chris proud” after his brother’s killing.

Kimberly Reeves says he’s excelling at Benedict College in Columbia, S.C., but she’s nervous about summer break.

“I just wish he could stay there at school. He’ll be home (in June), and he won’t go back until August, so do you know for the next three

Kimberley Reeves still wears the pin with her son Christopher's face on it.

Kimberley Reeves still wears the pin with her son Christopher’s face on it. (Photo credit: Patrick Smith)

months how I’m going to be? I’m scared that I’m going to lose my baby,” Reeves says.

When he’s at school Reeves says it’s like a burden is lifted off her shoulders.

“I can sleep.  I don’t have to worry about where he’s at,” she says.

Reeves says she has seen signs of improvement in her Englewood neighborhood, but she thinks there’s a lot more that could be done to make the area safer.

First, she says, those in power in the city and the country need to pay attention to the city’s Far South Side and be invested in improving it. Right now she doesn’t think anyone really cares about Englewood.

The area’s many vacant lots should be turned into something useful, like parks and community centers to keep the neighborhood’s young men active and engaged in something besides getting into trouble on the streets, Reeves says.

She worries about her oldest son, who’s in prison, because when he gets out, he will be a convicted felon with little prospects for work.

For that son Mario Reeves, and for the safety of her younger son Jermaine, she thinks there needs to be more services to help felons get work and reclaim their good name.

“There is no hope for them when they get out of prison, and they have to earn money somehow, so they turn back to crime,” Reeves says.

If there were more options for convicted felons, there would be less crime in the area, she says.

Juandalyn Holland, executive director for Teamwork Englewood, says finding legitimate work for felons has a huge impact on the crime and safety in a neighborhood.

The woes of Englewood have been discussed enough, Holland says; it’s time to focus on solutions.

“You can pick up any newspaper and see what is wrong in Englewood. The things that are bad in Englewood are highlighted every day by the media,” she says. “But there are a lot of good things going on, people just don’t know about them.

Teamwork Englewood is one many groups doing good work in and around Englewood, Holland says, and the neighborhood is improving because of it.

Her organization provides counseling and practical services to ex-convicts who are attempting to reenter society.

Its employees help with big tasks like finding jobs, getting training and going back to school, as well as small things like getting a driver’s license.

It usually takes about two years for someone to fully integrate back into society after being released from prison, Holland says because even if someone has only been gone for a few years, the world can seem totally different to him.

Holland says finding work and activities for young people in Chicago is essential to stopping the violence.

“The reason people are acting out is because they have nothing to do that is viable to society,” she says.

Reeves agrees, saying she wishes there was even more help for former criminals trying to go straight.

“If people had jobs and something to do, they wouldn’t be out there shooting.”

This story is part of a week-long series about homicides in Chicago. ChicagoTalks, a news outlet operated by Columbia College’s Journalism Department, undertook a semester-long investigation of the topic funded with a grant from The Chicago Community Trust. ChicagoTalks is publishing additional stories throughout the week. If you have questions or comments, please e-mail project editor Suzanne McBride at smcbride@colum.edu.

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Posted by on June 5, 2013. Filed under Crime, Editor's Choice, Forgotten Dead, Special Series. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.