CeaseFire Week 2013: 5th Annual Lake County Block Party

Written by Courtney Ryan

Dr. Evelyn Chenier

Dr. Evelyn Chenier

“We will have to add another street next year,” Dr. Evelyn Chenier, Executive Director of Family First Support Center, states after 1,500 people turned out for the 5th annual CeaseFire block party in Waukegan on Sunday, June 9. It’s a significant increase from the first year’s 500-person crowd, but doesn’t surprise Chenier or the other community partners who pulled together the event.

As Chenier put it, “This year we were celebrating peace.”

The block party acknowledged CeaseFire’s success with about 50 vendors, organizations, performers, and speakers. Notable attendees included both North Chicago and Waukegan mayors, members of Community Action, among others. The crowd, which was drawn from North Chicago, Waukegan, Zion, and other Lake County communities, was also treated to diverse entertainment such as church Jesus Name’s choir, spoken word artists, and the band Dirty Church Sox. (Check out this clip of a DCS live performance below.)

Food vendors, craft tables, and a bike and car show added to the event, though many community members were excited to see college representatives.

Crowd

BBQ

Chenier says that college representatives and job resources are especially important when trying to end violence. “If they can get a job and become contributing members of society rather than thinking they are never going to work, I believe we can stop the violence,” she explains, “But we have to give people something to hold onto.”

She and other CeaseFire partners help community members build resumes by highlighting the skills they’ve demonstrated over the years but may overlook. “No matter how they got into the streets, they still have skills. They could have taken care of their family, kept people in line, or are good at handling money,” she says.

Therefore the key is to highlight those skills for potential employers without focusing on any negative history. Chenier says recipients of professional services are often shocked by the outcome. “When they see their resume they say, ‘Wow, I knew I did all this stuff but I didn’t know it could look like this.’”

 CeaseFire would like to thank numerous partners, including , the Family First Support Center, Community Action, the cities of North Chicago and Waukegan,and Groupon Grassroots for their support of this event.

Photos credited to Family First Support Center.

Read more of Courtney’s work & other Groupon writers here.

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