This week’s “Thankful Thursday” would like to honor Chicago Police Officer Jennifer Maddox. Her contributions, dedication, and recognition of the need to have safe places for at-risk-youths who reside at the Parkway Gardens housing complex in the Southside of Chicago has made an incredible impact. Over twenty years ago as a rookie police officer, Officer Maddox regularly responded to calls at the Parkway Gardens housing complex mostly due to kids getting in trouble. She saw there were no safe places for the kids to have fun or to play.
After patrolling the areas surrounding the Parkway Gardens for over 10 years, Officer Maddox decided to take a security job at the housing complex. Officer Maddox wanted to connect better with the residents and always felt in her heart a desire to go back and do something for that community.
That part-time security job lead Officer Maddox in 2011 to creating Future Ties, a non-profit dedicated to offering about 1,200 kids who live at Parkway Gardens a safe place to go after school. Future Ties provides the kids with help with their homework, life-skills training, resume workshops, conflict resolution, yoga, tutoring, field trips and other opportunities.
Officer Maddox, a working single mom, knew how hard it was to raise her boys alone. They needed someone positive to look up to every day and she knew she wanted to be the person to help other moms who were going through similar struggles. When the program began, it was just an empty basement. Officer Maddox’s main goal was to get the kids off the streets and to give their parents peace of mind. The property owners agreed with Officer Maddox’s idea which then lead to establishing it as a after-school drop-in center. Slowly over time, kids started coming to the center and eventually bringing their homework and asking for help. Officer Maddox began bringing in computers, printers and providing internet access for the kids at the center.
For her work, Officer Maddox was honored this year amongst 10 women by L’Oreal Paris as Women of Worth. The program selects women who work to inspire positive change in their communities and who have a courageous spirit and the strength to inspire worth within others. Each honoree will receives a $10,000 donation. The public can vote on the honorees through November by visiting https://www.lorealparisusa.com/women-of-worth.aspx. The winner will receive an additional $25,000 towards her cause.
Officer Maddox now works in Chicago PD’s Office of Community Affairs and was surprised about her nomination but was happy that Future Ties will receive the funding to support the programming for the kids. Officer Maddox sees these kids as future leaders and it takes ties in the community to help make them successful.