Through my involvement with Family Matters, a long standing community organization operating in the North of Howard area, focusing on after school and support programming for local families, I have gotten to know a young man who has been involved with the organization for years. Now 20 years old, this young man is preparing to move forward with his life – to get ahead and strive to succeed.

He called me early this week and asked me if I could write a letter of recommendation for him to enter a reputable local suburban college.

I called him yesterday to gather more details. I was glad to write this letter since I was impressed with this young man's integrity, work ethic and desire to succeed.

He sounded dejected when he answered, for he had just learned that the college had rejected his application. With the assistance of his former high school counselor, he was appealing the decision.

“Mike. I've got to get away from all of this violence. There are shootings all of the time."

He told me about how a neighbor friend of his, only 25 years old, was recently shot in the head while sitting in a local restaurant – a victim of a random shooting.

“He is now in the hospital, brain dead," he solemnly offered.

I was in disbelief. This is not Chicago's far south side, nor its west side. This is happening eerily close to home, in Rogers Park.

He continued. “I've got to get out of here, Mike. I feel it every day. I've got fear in my heart."

I have not been able to verify the facts behind this specific shooting, but it doesn't matter. What matters to me is that this upstanding, honorable young man is afraid, never sure if he will be the next victim. It's one thing to read about these sorts of things in the media, if they ever receive any coverage, which happens all too rarely in today's far too competitive news environment. It's different when you have some sort of a personal connection to it.

The youth in Family Matter's Young Men's Programs seem to know all too well the impact that violence has in their lives.

Next week they will express their feelings in a program entitled “Eclipse the Violence." The young men will present “a multi- media performance featuring drumming, original music and a slide show expressing their insights into the impact of violence in their lives," at two times, Friday December 17, 2010 and Saturday, December 18, 2010, at the location described below.

Please support these young local men, most of whom live in the North of Howard neighborhood, who are reaching inside themselves to find a creative and healthy way to express their feelings about an issue that so many of us are blessed to only have to read about, and not live through it every day.

Hopefully, this form of expression, coupled with community support, will help our youth overcome this fear in their hearts.

Family Matters' Young Men's Programs
BOND (Brothers of New Directions) and
BOM (Brothers on the Move)

Present

Eclipse the Violence

A multi-media performance featuring drumming, original music, and a slide show expressing the young men's insights into the impact of violence in their lives and the world.  Artwork by the young of the BOND/BOM will be on display.

Friday, Dec. 17, 2010 * 7:30 PM

Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010 * 3:00 PM

St. Luke's Church
Great Hall
939 Hinman Avenue
Evanston, IL  60202
(one block east of Chicago Ave., one block north of Main St.)

Free Will Offering

All proceeds will support Family Matters' Young Men's Programs

For more information call
Dan McNeil, Program Director
773-465-6011 ext. 122