West Englewood, Community Center, Teenage Mothers, Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church, Sam Ella McKenzie,

West Englewood Pastor Planning Community Center For Teenage Mothers

CHICAGO (CBS) — A West Englewood neighborhood church has announced plans to build a community center where young mothers can get mentoring, counseling, and education to help them get a leg up on life.

Rev. Cartha McKenzie Jr., pastor of Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church, said mothers are the backbone of the community.

“So many young ladies are single parents. So many ladies are dropping out [of school] because they’ve got to stay home to take care of their child,” he said. “We figure if we get to the mothers, then it will definitely have a major impact on the children.”

The community center would be named his mother, Sam Ella McKenzie, and would be built across the street from Harper High School at 65th and Wood streets.

Sam Ella McKenzie said God told her to help teenage mothers who have little hope for a bright future.

“He told me build this center so our young girls, they know that there’s hope,” she said. “Every time those girls come out of that school, I want them to have hope.”

Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th) helped the church buy vacant city-owned lots at fair market value so they could build the center.

“Oftentimes we hear the negative, but today’s story is about the positive,” he said.

The church is raising money to pay for the facility, estimated to cost $1.7 million.

“We need help. We need it bad,” Rev. McKenzie said.

Donations can be made at the center’s website, by clicking here.

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