The Crushers Club
As many of you know, I've been working on a book about Mental Health in America for the last 6 months. In creating this body of work, one of my focuses has been on specific issues like poverty and how those circumstances create mental health problems in certain communities.
One of the places that I recently visited on my journey was the Crushers Club in Englewood, a poor neighborhood on the south side of Chicago. It's a tough place with few opportunities. In 2016 alone there were 346 shootings in the three square mile area that makes up Englewood.
During my time there, I talked to young men who had been shot multiple times and others who described what it was like to live in an environment in which they frequently saw friends and family die due to violence.
The Crushers Club is run by a lady named Sally Hazelgrove. Sally is a tough, petite woman who is passionate about helping "her boys." Here's a short excerpt from the interview with Sally about how she began helping young men in the neighborhood:
"I have a lot of fight and fire in me, so I thought I’d train myself to box. Once I learned enough, I just started grabbing boys off the block, going into schools, and telling them to give me the boys they are scared of, that they think are going to murder someone. The worst of the worst. I feel like those are the ones God wants me to work with."
The Crushers Club has officially been in existence since 2012. On the surface, they teach young men how to box but what they really do is keep kids out of gangs and provide a safe environment for them to heal and thrive. They provide much-needed employment opportunities for youth in the neighborhood and help the participants with every aspect of their lives.
The Crushers Club runs off of private donations and almost 100% of the money donated goes back to helping the young men who participate. If you feel so inclined, please consider making a donation.