The AT&T team had the privilege a few weeks ago of visiting St. Sabina, an African American faith community on Chicago’s South Side. The Church, which is led by Father Mike Pfleger, espouses the credo to live as believers and doers of the Word so that when church disciples pass thru the church doors they “make the Word flesh and make evil nervous.”
St. Sabina is one of the partner organizations we are proud to support in their efforts to lift and support communities that are disenfranchised and distressed. Consider St. Sabina’s Strong Futures Program, a program that provides justice-involved, disconnected youth with support, mentoring, training and a stable environment. This support in turn can create pathways to employment and a productive life. We heard from a group of young men involved in the program as leaders, mentors and participants. Their stories were tales of strength and purpose and redemption.
For example, we heard from one young man who grew up in Chicago’s Robert Taylor Housing Projects believing that his life had no value. By 15, he had been incarcerated for armed robbery. When he was released in his early 20s, with little idea of how to build a future, providence led him to St. Sabina and the Strong Futures program. This turn of events, he believes, was nothing short of a miracle. He credits the program for saving his life, and he is now a mentor in the program helping other young men find their value and purpose and connection to the community.
Consider this: It costs approximately $42,000/year to incarcerate a young man; at St. Sabina, it costs $6,200/year to surround that same young man with support and mentoring sufficient to put him on the path to a purposeful life.
We know we can’t create the type of miracles like those delivered daily by the St. Sabina staff. But we can stand with them and all our community partners that serve as advocates for the disenfranchised. We believe we have a responsibility to support these local efforts — these communities are where AT&T employees live and work, and these are neighborhoods that our customers call home. And we are committed to using our own time, talent and resources to further their goals. For example, we can retool our world class reskilling platform for use by community members seeking to better their lives. And we can harness the power of our army of intrepid and passionate employee volunteers to engage in community outreach efforts.
We also believe we can help shine a brighter light on stories of hope and peace and resilience – stories like those we heard from the young men of the Strong Futures Program, stories that are too often drowned out by negative headlines.
Our engagement with the communities we serve is central to who we are and how we serve. We believe in the faith and power of peacemakers like those at St. Sabina and we believe in the strength and resilience of the young men and women we met, who are fighting for a better way of life for themselves and their neighbors. We are proud to call them our partners and friends.
Miracles are available for the making at St. Sabina. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. To sponsor one, please visit www.saintsabinapeacemakers.org and join the believers.