CHICAGO (STMW) — Hadiya Pendleton’s father got a gift from City Hall on Wednesday, three weeks before the one-year anniversary of the 15-year-old’s murder.
The City Council’s Housing Committee agreed to lease — for $1 through 2016 — two unused offices in the Martin Luther King Community Center, 4314 S. Cottage Grove, to the foundation created to turn pain into purpose by providing mentoring, tutoring, computer and recreation programs for young people after school.
The Hadiya Pendleton Foundation will occupy the two small offices only until it identifies a permanent home with at least 2,500 square feet of space.
If Nathaniel Pendleton has his way, the lease will be short-lived. He hopes to have the doors of the safe haven created in his daughter’s name open by the end of February.
“Wallowing in your grief does nothing to help any situation. It’s best to just try to keep moving and keep your head on positive things,” said Pendleton, who has raised just $15,000 of the $150,000 he believes he needs to operate a center fully stocked with computers.
“We’re looking for a place where they can come and socialize and just hang out with each other.”
Asked how his daughter would feel about the effort, Pendleton said, “She was a people person. She would be overjoyed. If she were still here today, she would be right there with us — in the forefront. Matter of fact, she is here.”
A promising sophomore at King College Prep, Hadiya Pendleton was shot in the back Jan. 29, 2013, while hanging out with friends at a park a few blocks from the high school and less than a mile from President Barack Obama’s Kenwood mansion.
Her murder shined another unflattering international spotlight on Chicago because she was an honor student, a volleyball player and a majorette who had just performed with her high school band at festivities tied to Obama’s second inauguration.
She lost her life to the very gang violence she had condemned in a 2008 public service video.
Nathaniel Pendleton said he’s planning to turn the one-year anniversary into a celebration, but he’s dreading it.
“Very tough. That’s something that’s necessary for me and [wife] Cleo, but I’m not really looking forward to it. That was our death day,” he said.
“But we’re going to make something real positive happen that day. We’re going to start it with a vigil and, possibly, I’ll be making her favorite foods again: crab legs, cheeseburgers, stuff like that.”
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2014. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)