The neighborhood of West Humboldt Park in Chicago has some of the city’s highest rates of violence and drug abuse.  More than 95% of households are economically disadvantaged, and six different gangs operate within a half-mile area.  Because of this, parents face extreme challenges in raising their children in safety. Even after-school programs cannot provide the necessary stability that gives children a real opportunity to thrive.

The Galik family has courageously taken action. Charlie, a development engineer at Cambium Networks, and his wife Elizabeth have generously opened their home to help local children. Elizabeth Galik and co-director Brandon Green have created R CITY, a nonprofit community center model designed to build a path for children to progress safely from kindergarten to career.

“We believe in building long-term relationships with West Humboldt Park families, supporting children in their education, providing apprenticeships to transition them to career, and linking them to a network of resourced people who can engage in times of crisis or opportunity,” says Elizabeth Galik. “We currently do this through after-school and summer programs for grades K-8 and offer apprenticeships for ages 15-24.”

The program was launched in 2015 and currently offers 20 hours of after-schooling programming for 75 students, and employs 7 young adult apprentices serving as program leaders. As a part of the Safe Families for Children program, the Galiks and their four children have opened their home to one young adult and two children to live with them in a safe and loving family household. Over the last six years, they have hosted 30 children from infants to age 18 for periods of one day to three years.

The lasting benefits to those children are beyond estimation.

Cambium Networks supports the Galiks’ efforts, and has made a donation to expand the R CITY program to create additional apprenticeships. The program will add a coding class as an elective in the after-school programs. Look out for the next generation of Cambium engineers coming out of R CITY!

“We love living in our community, knowing people and being engaged with people who have stories far different than ours,” says Charlie. “We believe that the statistics that show Chicago’s violence are really compilations of thousands of stories: children with trauma upon trauma, young people who feel they have no alternative, and endure families in crisis.  If the statistics are made up of individual stories, then they can also be deconstructed through individual success stories: lives changed with love and compassion, training and opportunities, resources and mentors.”

I encourage you to consider engaging in helping children thrive. You can follow R CITY on facebook or Safe Families for Children to learn about volunteer opportunities for individuals of groups.

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