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<v J.R.>Yeah. <v Kim Anderson>They get self-esteem, they get acceptance. <v Kim Anderson>They get the male bonding, which they don't get at home because the men are not in the <v Kim Anderson>families that often. Everything they should be getting in a family, they're getting on <v Kim Anderson>the street. That's why it's so hard to pull 'em off. <v Announcer>Next on WTTW Journal, what's out there for <v Announcer>J.R.? <v Joe Montegna>Good evening. I'm Joe Montegna. <v Joe Montegna>Tonight's WTTW Journal is a part of Chicago Matters. <v Joe Montegna>A three year programing commitment by WTTW and the Chicago Community Trust <v Joe Montegna>to explore those issues most critically affecting the quality of life in our community. <v Joe Montegna>The focus of this second year is the child. <v Joe Montegna>The documentary you're about to see has set out to try to answer a simple <v Joe Montegna>and troubling question.
<v Joe Montegna>What can we do as a community to help the growing number of children who are leaving <v Joe Montegna>their homes unprepared to lead independent and productive lives? <v Joe Montegna>We looked at this by exploring what's out there for one 11 year old boy <v Joe Montegna>named J.R. and discovered there are an awful <v Joe Montegna>lot of J.R.'s out there. [music] [song: Sadeness performed by Enigma] <v Joe Montegna>50 percent of the youth in this community did not finish high school. <v Joe Montegna>And those statistics were true in the year that J.R. <v Joe Montegna>was born. There's certainly no better today. <v Speaker>Than the opportunity for J.R., you know, just to run out his front door <v Speaker>and have all the other kids waving at him as he runs by is gone. <v Speaker>Ya know, He's living in half of a war zone.
<v Speaker>J.R. is like a lot of kids in a lot of neighborhoods and a lot of the suburbs uh J.R. <v Speaker>wants somebody to know that he doesn't have <v Speaker>anything to do this afternoon. <v Speaker>What to do um for children like J.R.? <v Speaker>It's difficult to say what exactly we could be doing. <v Speaker>If the agencies can come together so that we can put our resources together and help <v Speaker>all the J.R.s In this community. <v Speaker>Then we're giving them some positive choices. <v Speaker>Would would make J.R. unique is that he does have a special kind of potential that you <v Speaker>could recognize. <v Nelly>I don't think J.R.'s really bad. I just think he's just misbehaved. <v Nelly>I don't think none of my kids are bad. Just terrible sometimes. <v Nelly>My real concerns for J.R. <v Nelly>Quite a few. <v Nelly>One that he would be gangbanging. Two that he would be into theft. <v Nelly>School. <v Nelly>You don't know how he thinks because one minute he could be so gentle
<v Nelly>and then the next minute he can be so unpredictable. <v Nelly>There's a lot of me in J.R. <v Nelly>Boy, you better knock that radio down. <v Nelly>Angel, go tell J.R he got two seconds to lower that radio. <v Nelly>Now. <v Nelly>And tell him to come here a second. I gave him the garbage bags, look at where they're at. What's <v Nelly>right by your feet? <v Nelly>Did you do what I told you? <v Nelly>If I hear that radio loud, one more time it's gonna fly out the window. <v Nelly>Remember how the other day that stereo flew? <v Nelly>Well, I see more J.R. in my brother. <v Nelly>Stubborn and angry because, like, he looks like Junior. <v Nelly>Junior's been in jail most of his life. <v Nelly>Jalia Conconi, whatever. <v Nelly>He's very smart, good looking. <v Nelly>That's been his home. <v Speaker>Look he's scared, watch. <v Nelly>Put that stupid cat down. <v J.R.>Why you don't like the cat?
<v J.R.>It's such a nice cat. <v Nelly>I was raised around animals alot. <v Nelly>Basically, I like animals. <v Nelly>They cheer you up, I guess. <v Speaker>The only thing that she don't like is um kids. <v Nelly>Yea, that's why I got four of yous, right? <v Speaker>Mhm. <v Nelly>Oh, I don't like you. <v Speaker>Nope. <v Nelly>Why? <v Speaker>'Cause you don't let us play Nintendo. <v Nelly>Oh, I don't like you 'cause I won't let you play Nintendo? <v Nelly>That makes a lot of sense. <v Speaker>Mommy, but one thing. <v Joe Montegna>There's just no way to sum up a family. <v Joe Montegna>You'll always fall short of the truth, for every family is as unique and complex <v Joe Montegna>and unpredictable and frustrating and inspiring as the individuals who make <v Joe Montegna>it up. This is J.R.'s family, and in this sense <v Joe Montegna>it is no different. <v Joe Montegna>J.R.'s mother is Nelly. Her nickname is Flocka, which means skinny. <v Speaker>Here dummy. I'm talking to you, Rosie. <v Nelly>Yeah. What did I tell you about that last night? <v Joe Montegna>She is loud and tough talking and quick to anger and slow to trust and
<v Joe Montegna>she'd be the first to admit she'd made some mistakes in her life. <v Joe Montegna>But it's obvious she loves her children and has dreams for them. <v Nelly>What do you want from me? What do you want? <v Joe Montegna> J.R.'s father is called Ivid. His real name's, Iran. <v Joe Montegna>That's J.R.'s name too. <v Joe Montegna>J.R. stands for Junior. <v Joe Montegna>Iran has also made some mistakes. <v Joe Montegna>His relationship with Nelly has been stormy and he ran around a lot. <v Joe Montegna>But a car accident three years ago robbed him of his legs and forced him to stay home <v Joe Montegna>and think about his life. <v Iran>I didn't realize I was too wild, to be always goofing around with my friends and didn't <v Iran>pay no attention to my family. Now that I'm home more often, now it's been kinda hard to <v Iran>get adjusted again. <v Iran>Ya know, contact with him and get him back to where which the way it really supposed to <v Iran>be. <v Nelly>No, I didn't. I didn't trust, Ivid. <v Nelly>And I still don't tell Ivid everything. <v Nelly>Tired. It's too hard.
<v Speaker>Come on, stay still! How do you expect me to comb your hair if you're moving all around <v Speaker>like a nut. <v Joe Montegna>The turmoil affected everyone in the family. <v Joe Montegna>The two girls, Lillian and Rosie and the younger brother, Angel. <v Joe Montegna>But the strongest reaction came from the oldest son, J.R. <v Joe Montegna>Who is failing in the neighborhood public school and attracted to gangs. <v Nelly>Usually people that know him, see only the sweet side of J.R. <v Nelly>People that they really know him knows his rough side, his angry side, <v Nelly>his stubborn side. <v Nelly>His family wasn't all there at one time. <v Nelly>And now that they are, it's too hard for him to adjust. <v Nelly>And his father's accident had a lot to do with that. <v Joe Montegna>Everyone who knows J.R. Believes he is at a fork in the road, wavering <v Joe Montegna>between two very different worlds. <v Joe Montegna>One is the turbulent world he lives in on weekends when he's at home with his family in <v Joe Montegna>Humboldt Park. <v J.R.>Use your gloves man, you'll be warm in there.
<v Joe Montegna>The other's the more orderly world that Nelly sent J.R. <v Joe Montegna>to live in during the week with Father Larry Craig and two other boys <v Joe Montegna>at Assumption Church. <v Rev. Larry Craig>What do you think would happen to you if you stayed at home? <v J.R.>I probably be like in a gang. <v Rev. Larry Craig>Well, why? You don't have to be. <v Rev. Larry Craig>Why would you think that would happen? <v J.R.>'Cause everywhere I go there's a gang. <v J.R.>Well, not everyone, but like in the neighborhood when I move there's a gang sign. <v Joe Montegna>Nelly fears the wrong turn could take J.R. <v Joe Montegna>toward the same dead end she saw her brother go down. <v Nelly>I see him probably in jail or probably buried, ya know, if he were to take that road. <v Nelly>It's the only two places, you can go. <v Nelly>Is jail and buried. <v Joe Montegna>It's a critical point for a child only 11 years old. <v Joe Montegna>And many people are concerned about J.R. <v Joe Montegna>and which way he'll go. <v Joe Montegna>Although the decision will ultimately be his own. <v Joe Montegna>We all play a part in it, for in a real sense the choices for a kid coming
<v Joe Montegna>out of a troubled home, and there are increasing numbers of them, depend largely <v Joe Montegna>upon how we all answer the question, what's out there <v Joe Montegna>for J.R.? [music] <v Joe Montegna>There are many ways to describe J.R.'s neighborhood. <v Joe Montegna>To politicians, it's the 26th Ward, to police <v Joe Montegna>the 14th District, the Postal Service calls it 6 0 6 <v Joe Montegna>4 7, the church St. Sylvester's parish, <v Joe Montegna>Chicago's communities map calls it Logan Square, its <v Joe Montegna>neighborhoods map, Humboldt Park. <v Joe Montegna>But for the kids like J.R., who have to walk its streets, the only map that matters <v Joe Montegna>is the one they carry in their heads, which tells them where the gangs are. <v Speaker>Every kid that lives in these boundaries, faces the same thing. <v Speaker>And you have a choice. You either in it or you're not.
<v Speaker>And if you're not in it, then got to be very, very careful as to where you go. <v Nelly>The first thing he's going to bump into is gangbangers and they know J.R. <v Nelly>and J.R. Looks up to them. He thinks it's cool. <v Nelly>He's a kid, what does he know? <v Speaker>He's 11 years old. He knows exactly what he's doing and what colors he can wear, what <v Speaker>colors he can't, depending on where he's at. <v Speaker>I tried to believe that I haven't lost control, but in reality, yes, I have. <v Speaker>[police dispatch] Sargeant 14 [inaudible] we got shots fired at 21 North Richmonds over by the <v Speaker>church. <v Joe Montegna>In reality, it is a whole community that seems to have lost control. <v Speaker>While you're dealing in the 14th District with a very, very busy district, it's calls <v Speaker>for service or monumental. <v Speaker>Out of 135 gangs in the city of Chicago, at least 49 operate out of <v Speaker>our areas. And uh they're some of the most violent also within the city. <v Speaker>[police dispatch] We have a disturbance, gangs on the street, 1500 North California.
<v Speaker>These gentlemen here stopped a guy in the street started arguing with him. <v Speaker>One of the guys pulled a club, they started threatening him with gangs. <v Speaker>We just came off the train station and those two opposition gang members and uh and <v Speaker>they came to settlle right here. You know, they wanted to fight. <v Speaker>They want to fight. They want to fight. I'm not in that. I'm not gonna get in their <v Speaker>problems. <v Joe Montegna>The problem is their problems on gang turf become <v Joe Montegna>everyone's problems. <v Speaker>I dropped out about a year ago from Roberto Clemente and uh the <v Speaker>reason why I dropped out is because of the gangs, you know, problem is you know, is <v Speaker>really. Either you got a ride with someone or, you know, either <v Speaker>you wearing wrong colors. <v Speaker>It's not worth it, you know, it's risking your life. <v Tony Martinez>Some of these kids are good kids, but they have like I said before, they have nowhere to <v Tony Martinez>go. And little by little, they get joined in these gangs and they become hardcore. <v Tony Martinez>But as far as we are concerned with the gangs are a bad thing for the community because <v Tony Martinez>the only thing they put into communitie is fear.
<v Joe Montegna>In simplest terms, a community is what happens when people communicate. <v Joe Montegna>Just several blocks from J.R.'s home, you can see what a powerful thing <v Joe Montegna>that can be. <v Speaker>Okay, what corner is this over here? <v Oscar Bosch>We're at Evergreen and Washington probably, you know, one of the hottest corners of the <v Oscar Bosch>city right now. A lot of drug dealing. <v Oscar Bosch>All the kids in the gangs were hanging around. <v Speaker>So what happened? <v Oscar Bosch>Well, a few of us got together and we set up the lights, catch 'em across the street. <v Oscar Bosch>So I'm here to shine all over the street and it got to where the police came around and <v Oscar Bosch>some 'em wherever they were hanging around at and they don't hang around here no more <v Speaker>So nobody likes to commit crime under a spotlight. <v Speaker>The police can't solve the drug problem at all, but we can move them out of a <v Speaker>neighborhood with the cooperation of people of that neighborhood. <v Joe Montegna>Gangs may seem like a remote subject to some an urban or a minority <v Joe Montegna>problem not relevant to their lives. <v Joe Montegna>But in fact, gangs are just the most dramatic illustration of what happens <v Joe Montegna>when community breaks down and children begin forming their own institutions to
<v Joe Montegna>meet their needs. <v Joe Montegna>When kids are better organized than adults, you end up with a Lord of the Flies kind <v Joe Montegna>of society. And this is what is happening in large tracts of Chicago <v Joe Montegna>and increasing segments of the suburbs for the forces that contribute to the <v Joe Montegna>breakdown of the community, do not honor municipal lines. <v Joe Montegna>[music] [Song: Make Some Noise performed by Fast Eddie]. <v Joe Montegna>A year ago, the Elmhurst YMCA started a Friday night dance which has attracted hundreds <v Joe Montegna>of teenagers from throughout the area. <v YCMCA Worker>Also, no fighting. If there are any fights. <v Joe Montegna>A growing concern at these dances is how to deal with gangs and fights. <v Joe Montegna>On this evening, a gang did show up and cast a pall over the dance floor <v Joe Montegna>for a while. One gang banger tried to pick a fight with a local youth who was wearing <v Joe Montegna>the wrong colors. <v Speaker>You fucking staying here, shit's gonna fucking start here alright. I'm not fucking having anything in here.
<v Joe Montegna>They were escorted out without incident. <v Joe Montegna>And the dancing resumed. But a point was made. <v Joe Montegna>It doesn't matter where a child lives, if he's not getting clear and consistent <v Joe Montegna>signals from the adults around him, he's going to be confused. <v Joe Montegna>J.R. is a case in point. <v Nelly>He thinks he's tough. <v Nelly>I talked to him today about wearing green and black and oh, I don't always wear green and <v Nelly>black. That's all he wears up here is green and black. <v Nelly>That's the Cobras around here. <v Nelly>So when he comes over here, I don't want to see him with no green and no black. <v J.R.>I don't even worry about it. I just put on clothes but <v J.R.>she thinks I'm trying to be in a gang. <v Nelly>Because the way you act. <v Joe Montegna>Nelly is trying to keep J.R. out of gangs, but she herself was once in a <v Joe Montegna>gang and still has a lot of the street in here. <v Nelly>We got shot at here living here. <v Nelly>Remember? <v Speaker>Yea, I remember. I got shot, right there. <v Nelly>I've be taking my kids in [shoom]. <v Gitano>I got shot in my butt coming from my girlfriend's house.
<v Speaker>Have you lost any friends? I mean, have you got, have you lost? <v Speaker>Yeah, I lost a friend. <v Nelly>Yea, we lost friends. Plenty of them. <v Nelly>I think we've lost more friends than what we got left. <v Gitano>That we all love and miss. <v Nelly>I'm not ashamed of it because it helped me to be strong. <v Nelly>Not that I'm saying it's right. <v Nelly>But back then, it was kind of way different now. <v Rev. Larry Craig>So that was a good part of Nelly's life, though, in general. <v Rev. Larry Craig>She had some bad moments with it, of course, but she still remembers some of the people <v Rev. Larry Craig>that she used to hang around, she still sees them. <v Rev. Larry Craig>And uh you know, so she's she can't help but say stop. <v Rev. Larry Craig>And so he's gonna see that in the house, which is a tremendously attractive <v Rev. Larry Craig>thing for a kid like J.R. <v Joe Montegna>The police tell you the gangs have increasingly become economic enterprises <v Joe Montegna>involved in the highly lucrative marketing of narcotics. <v Joe Montegna>Although many of the gangs today are, in fact, run by adults from prison, their survival <v Joe Montegna>depends upon the constant recruitment of youngsters.
<v Julio Matias>They know whether or not you've got one parent at home. <v Julio Matias>They know whether or not you got two parents at home. <v Julio Matias>They know whether or not you're on public aid, they know whether or not you're failing in <v Julio Matias>school, they know whether or not you're a run away, they know whether or not you you you <v Julio Matias>break curfew violation every night, they know whether or not you been shoplifting, you <v Julio Matias>been caught. So they have a pretty good background on you. <v Joan Costello>You know, the gangs are very organized about their recruitment. <v Joan Costello>They're very systematic. And whether you're recruiting for a gang or for Harvard <v Joan Costello>University or for IBM, you know, you have a strategy and you recruit. <v Joan Costello>And if you're a recruiter, you know what you're after. <v Joan Costello>I don't think we compete very hard as a community. <v Joe Montegna>The fact is, despite the obvious dangers and parental warnings, <v Joe Montegna>many kids like J.R. continue to join because the gangs are satisfying <v Joe Montegna>some of their most basic human needs, needs not being met <v Joe Montegna>in their families. <v Kim Anderson>They get self-esteem, they get acceptance. <v Kim Anderson>They get the male bonding, which they don't get at home because the men are not in the <v Kim Anderson>families that often. Everything they should be getting in a family, they're getting on
<v Kim Anderson>the street. That's why it's so hard to pull them off, because that pull is just too <v Kim Anderson>strong. It's human nature. It's things that everybody needs. <v Rev. Larry Craig>J.R. is enchanted as many kids his age are in those neighborhoods, <v Rev. Larry Craig>and he sees kids on a corner who are openly representing <v Rev. Larry Craig>gangs and fighting and that's that's exciting for a kid that age. <v Joe Montegna>The other place that kids needs might be met, the community at large <v Joe Montegna>is also failing them. <v Speaker>For a lot of kids gangs become the only community they <v Speaker>really know about and uh, you know, it has been said many times <v Speaker>people have a need for a sense of roots, a sense of belonging and something larger <v Speaker>than their immediate family. And gangs do offer that at at a fair price, <v Speaker>but they do offer that. [music] [Song: Sadeness performed by Enigma] <v Joe Montegna>Humboldt Park is one of Chicago's most beautiful parks.
<v Joe Montegna>Not so many years ago, it was a bastion of community, a place safe enough <v Joe Montegna>to sleep in on a hot summer night. <v Joe Montegna>A place kids could go to learn important lessons about healthy competition <v Joe Montegna>and teamwork and the rules of the game. <v Joe Montegna>Humboldt Drive runs through the center of Humboldt Park. <v Joe Montegna>The rules neighborhood kids like J.R. <v Joe Montegna>Learned here today are of a totally different order. <v Joe Montegna>There may be no more pathetic expression of the breakdown of community than the fact <v Joe Montegna>that to thousands of children this drive is not an artery but a wound. <v Joe Montegna>The dividing line between the city's two major factions of gangs. <v Joe Montegna>A gangbanger from the west side of the park:. <v West Side Member>Especially summer, summer nobody calls a lot of shooting going on right here. <v West Side Member>My friend, he got killed right over there in the fieldhouse, in the barhouse back there. <v West Side Member>They shot him. I don't want to be part of it now, but <v West Side Member>I'm in it.
<v Speaker>It's hard to get out. <v West Side Member>It's too late. Yeah. <v Joe Montegna>A rival gang banger from the east side of the park: <v Gitano>That's the bor-we call that the borderline. In the summertime, sometimes <v Gitano>we'll walk over there to our side and they'll be on their side, Hey what's up man, what <v Gitano>you, ya know? A little argument and all you hear pop-pop-pop. <v Gitano>All of this is all gangs, other teenagers fighting other teenagers over <v Gitano>a block. Sometimes you just get sick and tired of it. <v Joe Montegna>The Humboldt Park Field House is on the west side of Humboldt Drive, which means <v Joe Montegna>only kids from the west side feel safe enough to go to it. <v Joe Montegna>Like many public institutions, the park today is being held hostage <v Joe Montegna>by the gangs around it because J.R. <v Joe Montegna>lives east of Humboldt Drive, even though he's not in a gang, park programs <v Joe Montegna>are practically beyond his reach. <v Speaker>The issue here is that where it falls, if the kid wants to go to the library <v Speaker>that's on the east side but lives in west Humboldt Park he could't go to a library to
<v Speaker>learn. It's the same thing. It's just wherever it falls. <v Joe Montegna>The library is about two blocks from J.R.'s home, just around the corner <v Joe Montegna>from Humboldt Park. <v Francisco Arroyo>It just gets they don't know no place to go. <v Francisco Arroyo>They just come in to here because they need to be someplace safe. <v Francisco Arroyo>And it's really sad. <v Joe Montegna>Last summer, a teenager shot several innocent children when he chased <v Joe Montegna>the rival gang banger into the middle of a YMCA soccer league. <v John Casey>Thank God he wounded them in the legs because he was shooting down uh and <v John Casey>as a result, we now have to bus these young people all the way over <v John Casey>here to North Avenue and harstad to the new city way so that we can finish the <v John Casey>soccer season. <v Joe Montegna>The Logan Square YMCA, located along a gang border in Chicago, <v Joe Montegna>picks up 35 children each day and buses them across gang turf <v Joe Montegna>so that they can safely attend Y programs.
<v Joe Montegna>It's J.R.'s neighborhood Y but even with transportation provided, <v Joe Montegna>Nelly doesn't feel it's safe enough for J.R. <v Joe Montegna>to go to. The YMCA also employs two former gang members. <v Joe Montegna>In an effort to reach out and help other kids redirect their lives. <v Ray Vazquez>J.R. has an option in life, choices, I believe everyone has choices in life <v Ray Vazquez>and they deserve that opportunity. <v Ray Vazquez>We owe it to 'em as a society and many times because of the lack of resources <v Ray Vazquez>or just not having the right people at the right time. <v Ray Vazquez>Those kids get lost. <v Joe Montegna>The tragedy is only a fraction of the kids who need help <v Joe Montegna>ever make it to the programs that exist, and some do, <v Joe Montegna>even in places like Humboldt Park. <v Joe Montegna>[recorder music] The ones who do make it usually are accompanied by determined adults.
<v Adela Molina>I feel there is a lot if you as a parent <v Adela Molina>go looking. I bring her to Humboldt Park like to music, <v Adela Molina>piano, recorder. <v Adela Molina>But you know, if you don't go looking for well, of course, you're gonna be negative <v Adela Molina>all the time, say, well, there's nothing out there. <v Izzy Garcia>I grew up my whole life in this one whole are. <v Izzy Garcia>25 years in this whole area. I mean, without even really seeing the world, you know. <v Joe Montegna>Izzy Garcia house who broke away from the gang life in the corner when he began working <v Joe Montegna>for the YMCA now sees how limiting that world was. <v Izzy Garcia>You know, it feels like I'm getting out, you know, not like I felt trapped, you know, <v Izzy Garcia>right here on this map this may look big, but believe me, I know that's that's <v Izzy Garcia>a small area. I don't know how they made it look so big on the map but it's very small. <v Joe Montegna>Izzy's world is J.R.'s world. <v Joe Montegna>It may seem small, but the forces that helped shape it are not
<v Joe Montegna>and they are of concern to us all. <v Joe Montegna>In America today, 4 of every 10 black and Hispanic children live in poverty. <v Joe Montegna>And of these, 63 percent never finish high school. <v Joe Montegna>More significantly, half of all children born in America this year will live <v Joe Montegna>in a single parent family at some point in their lives. <v Joe Montegna>Although the breakdown of community affects us all, it's safe to say that nowhere <v Joe Montegna>has its impact been greater than in the family. <v Joe Montegna>And nowhere is American society more reluctant to intrude. <v Joan Costello>We're a unique country in our effort to make the privacy of the family <v Joan Costello>kind of a value beyond all others. <v Joan Costello>And that defeats us a little bit in our creativity in trying to create alternative social <v Joan Costello>arrangements that will support families raising kids today. <v Speaker>Once there was a tree <v Speaker>and she loved a little boy. <v Joe Montegna>The issue is crystallized just across the street from J.R.'s home at a Lutheran
<v Joe Montegna>daycare center. <v Speaker>We've got to figure out and build into the normal ebb and flow <v Speaker>of daily life for kids, nurturing kind of activities <v Speaker>that help them grow. In many ways, it will make them <v Speaker>feel cared about. <v Speaker>While parents are off working. <v Rosemary Bidne>When I was growing up, we had grandma or we had, you know, the supports of an aunt or <v Rosemary Bidne>uncle who could help out with child care. <v Rosemary Bidne>A lot of our families don't have that anymore. <v Rosemary Bidne>There is not grandma or grandpa. There is not Aunti Linda, there's not the extended <v Rosemary Bidne>family to help. So parents are really it's very hard. <v Speaker>Mama I didn't do anything. <v Nelly>Park it. You want me to give you a nice real good reason to cry? 'cause I will. <v Nelly>Cats, dogs, kids. Oh, God. If I don't <v Nelly>beg 'em for them to change those birds they don't do it. <v Nelly>You've got barrettes don't you? You've vuelitas don't you? <v Nelly>Get. <v Speaker>There ain't no vuelita.
<v Speaker>[mocking] <v Joe Montegna>Nelly's life provides an absorbing study of the kinds of problems haunting someone who <v Joe Montegna>from childhood has had to face the world without much love or support from <v Joe Montegna>family or community. <v Joe Montegna>She doesn't whine about it or blame anybody else, but her story does <v Joe Montegna>reveal much about our traditional approaches to helping people in trouble <v Joe Montegna>and why they need to be rethought. <v Joe Montegna>Nelly was born in Humboldt Park 32 years ago and quickly abandoned <v Joe Montegna>by her mother. <v Nelly>That was four months old and to me, it sounded like she did <v Nelly>want any part of me. <v Nelly>That's what I got out of it. <v Joe Montegna>She was raised by her grandmother, who she thought was her real mother until she was 12 <v Joe Montegna>years old. When she learned the truth she felt betrayed. <v Nelly>When I really, really realized it I felt stupid. <v Nelly>You go your own way because you figure you're not good enough for them.
<v Nelly>You do your own thing, even if you know it's wrong. <v Nelly>If they tell you not to look through that door. <v Nelly>The hell with you, you don't care. And you're gonna go look through it anyway. <v Nelly>At least to spite them. Haha you told me not to do this, I'm gonna do it. <v Nelly>That's why I did it. <v Joe Montegna>Nelly's gym teacher at Chopin Grammar School remembers her at that time. <v Larry Arshansky>She was one of the most scrawny young ladies I think I've ever come in contact <v Larry Arshansky>with. However, she had a a voice volume <v Larry Arshansky>that was a 6 foot 5 trucker. <v Larry Arshansky>And those are things that you ordinarily do not forget. <v Joe Montegna>Although her mother had had other children. <v Joe Montegna>Nelly was raised as an only child by her grandparents, old country Puerto <v Joe Montegna>Ricans who had trouble keeping her in line. <v Joe Montegna>Her counselor at Roberto Clemente High School remembers her fondly. <v Margaret Demopoulos>She does stand out because she was kind of different, <v Margaret Demopoulos>a lot older in it in then than her years would make her
<v Margaret Demopoulos>out to be. She seemed to have had a lot of experiences in life and <v Margaret Demopoulos>she seemed to be hurting in a lot of ways that she would never verbalize. <v Margaret Demopoulos>And when she did drop out of school, I was very disappointed because she had potential. <v Nelly>I was pregnant from Lily's father and I wanted to stay home with the baby because it was <v Nelly>the right thing to do. So, and she was mine. <v Joe Montegna>Just before turning 18, pregnant and unwed, she applied <v Joe Montegna>for public aid. <v Nelly>They're saying that I'm not qualified and they left me like four to six <v Nelly>months without any income. <v Joe Montegna>Her grandparents, who were preparing to retire to Puerto Rico, refused <v Joe Montegna>her any help. <v Nelly>They felt like they all said it was a mistake to deal with it. <v Joe Montegna>Feeling abandoned and forlorn with a new baby, no family, and no <v Joe Montegna>source of income. A year and a half after dropping out. <v Joe Montegna>Nelly ended up next door to Clemente High School in the mental health ward <v Joe Montegna>of St. Mary's Hospital.
<v Joe Montegna>The victim of a failed suicide attempt. <v Nelly>OD-ed on a whole mess of pills. <v Speaker>Did you really want to take yourself out of that point you think? <v Nelly>No, I think I was just trying to hurt the people around me more or less. <v Nelly>I knew they weren't gonna let me, ya know, maybe I knew I don't know, 'cause I did a <v Nelly>pretty good job. I almost made it. <v Joe Montegna>She then met, Iran, fell in love and had three more children. <v Joe Montegna>Starting with J.R. <v Nelly>I want to stop the mistakes that they, that I figured they made with me, I won't do with <v Nelly>my kids. Ya know? You know it's there, but it shouldn't <v Nelly>get in the way. Even though sometimes it does but it shouldn't. <v Nelly>It's very hard. You don't come with um instructions. <v Nelly>So, you know, you have to go by hearsay or by what you think it's right <v Nelly>and it's not always right, but it's real hard. <v Joe Montegna>But things didn't get better. <v Joe Montegna>Iran wasn't helping out much in the home and four kids doomed her occasional
<v Joe Montegna>efforts to get a steady job or go back to school and get off welfare. <v Joe Montegna>Then four years ago, Rosie fell from a second floor <v Joe Montegna>window and everything fell apart. <v Nelly>I can not explain if she was pushed of if she just sat or fell, <v Nelly>you know, 'cause little angel was there and he was smaller. <v Nelly>So the house was a wreck because I had been sick and me and Iran know <v Nelly>we're not on good terms. So the police came and Rosie was taken to the <v Nelly>hospital and I went with her and at the hospital I was arrested, was <v Nelly>put under arrest, ya know, for child neglect. <v Nelly>They thought I pushed Rosie. <v Nelly>So from there, they didn't let me budge. <v Nelly>I felt like a failure. <v Nelly>I walked into the house, the kids are not there? <v Nelly>I started drinking heavily, ya know, among <v Nelly>other little things. <v Joe Montegna>Charged with neglect, the children were taken away from Nelly for nine months.
<v Joe Montegna>Not everyone thinks this was an appropriate solution. <v Jerry Stermer>That's such a stupid response in that what we ought to do is fix <v Jerry Stermer>the window, work with the mom about safety issues and <v Jerry Stermer>and and see if we can't keep this family on <v Jerry Stermer>the road to to to a safer environment, not pour <v Jerry Stermer>all our money into ca- taking kids away from from families. <v Jerry Stermer>I mean, we've gotta re-think this thing. <v Jerry Stermer>Broken window child falls out, fix the window. <v Joe Montegna>Madeline Garcia, Nelly's assigned caseworker from DCFS <v Joe Montegna>the state's Department of Children and Family Services, remembers thinking <v Joe Montegna>the first time she met Nelly. <v Madeline Garcia>Why me? Why did I get stuck with this case? <v Madeline Garcia>This is not going to be an easy case to work with. <v Madeline Garcia>And Nelly was not going to make my job easy. <v Madeline Garcia>At the very first moment, she informed me that um people <v Madeline Garcia>were not going to tell her what she had to do, and if she felt she needed to do it, she
<v Madeline Garcia>would do it. And if not, then it was just children's tough luck <v Madeline Garcia>and our tough luck. And the other thing I believe that she was trying to tell me is that <v Madeline Garcia>she's had about enough of people coming into her home and <v Madeline Garcia>um trying to tell her what she needs to do. <v Joe Montegna>As part of the process of winning her kids back from the state, she was required to <v Joe Montegna>attend parenting classes at Association House. <v Joe Montegna>In the 10 years she had been out on her own, Nelly had given birth to <v Joe Montegna>and lost custody of four children, lived in some 20 different homes, <v Joe Montegna>become a case number in the huge bureaucracies of the departments of public aid, <v Joe Montegna>mental health, Children and Family Services and police. <v Joe Montegna>She was surviving, but the future did not look promising. <v Joe Montegna>And despite the efforts of a string of well-intentioned but essentially forced and <v Joe Montegna>fleeting interventions by professional social workers, frustrating for everyone involved, <v Joe Montegna>she and her family appeared doomed to continue to fall through the
<v Joe Montegna>cracks. <v Kim Anderson>These people have been agencied to death, many of them from the day that they were born, <v Kim Anderson>there's not, you can't change 15 years in 15 minutes. <v Kim Anderson>And that's usually the longest amount of time that we have with these families. <v Joan Costello>We have more and more assumed that things will be done by paid professionals. <v Joan Costello>And, you know, people connect with other people is not not never anything we're gonna do <v Joan Costello>for kids that's enough unless there are people there willing to connect. <v Joe Montegna>Nelly was one of the lucky ones. <v Joe Montegna>While many continue to fall through the cracks of a social service system that is itself <v Joe Montegna>so fragmented that it rarely can see the family or its members as a whole. <v Joe Montegna>Nelly had found somebody willing to connect with her and her family, somebody <v Joe Montegna>to trust, and that made all the difference. <v Madeline Garcia>I think what what happened was that um Father Craig was available. <v Madeline Garcia>I think that Father Craig has been um a very important <v Madeline Garcia>person in her life. [music] [Song: Peace Prayer sung by Father Craig]
<v Madeline Garcia>He's been the one that has been able to get Nelly to focus and to do <v Madeline Garcia>what she needs to do. It's not easy and not even for Father Craig, I don't think it's <v Madeline Garcia>been easy. <v Joe Montegna>Father Larry Craig entered Nelly's life when her brothers were sent as children to the <v Joe Montegna>Audy home, Chicago's juvenile detention center, where he had served as chaplain <v Joe Montegna>for many years. He had been in touch with Nelly since she was 15, <v Joe Montegna>had given her frequent counsel and support, and in many ways became the father <v Joe Montegna>she never had. <v Nelly>Pretty much I got myself straight thanks to Father, he helped me out a lot. <v Nelly>He's the only person that really knows or has talked to me or has helped <v Nelly>me, and really doesn't expect anything back. <v Nelly>You know, just some courtesy. <v Joe Montegna>Rosie, who was not seriously injured, had been sent with Angel to separate <v Joe Montegna>foster homes after the accident, but the court sent Lillian and J.R. <v Joe Montegna>to stay with Father Craig, who had first taken J.R. <v Joe Montegna>into his home, when J.R. was five years old.
<v Rev. Larry Craig>I knew the family and uh at that point, his uncles, one had already died, <v Rev. Larry Craig>had been released from prison to die, had a tumor, and the other one was in prison <v Rev. Larry Craig>at that point. And I had known them all their lives. <v Rev. Larry Craig>And I knew where this was likely to go. <v Rev. Larry Craig>That's the reason we took that intervention. <v Rev. Larry Craig>So I it wasn't a surprise to me that he would be that he could be incorrigible. <v Nelly>J.R., go get it. <v Nelly>That a way. <v J.R.>Man why you hit me for, old lady? <v Speaker>Mommy, you're so uptight. <v Lily>That's not funny, you don't love me. You're not a loving parent. <v Lily>Get away from me. <v Nelly>Damn, say it but don't spray it. Pig. <v Lily>[laughing] I didn't spit on you. <v Nelly>J.R. give me the umbrella. <v Rev. Larry Craig>It's not that she doesn't love 'em, ya know, but her house is real loud.
<v Rev. Larry Craig>Her grandmother used to yell at her all the time. <v Rev. Larry Craig>Used to hit her with brooms and all that stuff. But if you get the kids together, they'll <v Rev. Larry Craig>all tell you that. Their mothers all throw these chanclas at them that are <v Rev. Larry Craig>like sandals and the oth- and all of their mothers know how to do this. <v Rev. Larry Craig>And it's not big, aggressive, tattooed ones, you know, it's all of 'em, the little quiet <v Rev. Larry Craig>ones. They can throw these sandals around corners, they can get you from 30 feet and <v Rev. Larry Craig>they'll tell you each one of the boys when we get them together and they laugh about it. <v Rev. Larry Craig>They've all be chancla-ed at some time in their life. <v Rev. Larry Craig>And it's a common experience. It's the way they were raised. <v Rev. Larry Craig>That's what I say about values. Is that wrong? <v Rev. Larry Craig>Ya know, they don't think it's wrong. You know, the state would say, you know, you hit <v Rev. Larry Craig>him like that and that's abuse, but none of the kids think it's abuse. <v Rev. Larry Craig>So there's a real subjective thing involved in this and the way we judge their families. <v Rev. Larry Craig>And in Nelly's case, there's no question that she loves these kids. <v Rev. Larry Craig>She doesn't always express it appropriately. <v Rev. Larry Craig>She doesn't always know what's the best thing for them. <v Rev. Larry Craig>But, you know, if if I were to call her now and just say, Nelly, J.R. <v Rev. Larry Craig>just was in a little accident in school, she would be down here.
<v Rev. Larry Craig>She may not you know, you can't be sure when she's gonna be awake or any of those things <v Rev. Larry Craig>at her house. But if she thinks there's something wrong, she is here. <v Rev. Larry Craig>And of course, she doesn't she can't respond. <v Rev. Larry Craig>She doesn't what to do when she's here, but she'll be here. <v Nelly>Go get me my black purse. <v Angel>Kiss my butt. Mommy, I said that to Lily, not you. <v Nelly>No no Nintendo for two days now. <v Angel>No, come on, Mommy, but Lily was bothering me. <v Rev. Larry Craig>Disciplining, signs of love, how do you show affection? <v Rev. Larry Craig>How do you be consistent and disciplined? <v Rev. Larry Craig>She never saw that. No one ever taught her. <v Rev. Larry Craig>And so even today, she's weak in that area. <v Rev. Larry Craig>So it's an undeveloped area but we all have undeveloped areas of our personality. <v Rev. Larry Craig>Hers tend to make her less functional because her main job is <v Rev. Larry Craig>raising a family. And those are the areas that she's weak in. <v Rev. Larry Craig>In other areas, she isn't. If you see her <v Rev. Larry Craig>helping somebody present themselves to welfare, she can be very good. <v Rev. Larry Craig>Very impressive because she knows all that stuff.
<v Rev. Larry Craig>She can take a person who can't express himself well and do that for them. <v Rev. Larry Craig>She can help a lot of times, help other people with their problems. <v Rev. Larry Craig>But she has trouble with her own problems. So in some areas she has grown and that's how <v Rev. Larry Craig>many of us have done it. We mature on some levels and other levels we don't. <v Joe Montegna>J.R. now lives during the week with Father Craig and three other boys in the rectory <v Joe Montegna>of Assumption Church on South California and goes to a Catholic school <v Joe Montegna>in Pilson. <v Nelly>It's real different, it's real different. <v Nelly>Father's culture is calm and collect. <v Nelly>Mine is screaming, loud, ya know, I guess the drinking and everything too, and also and ya know the way we were raised. So he was confused. <v Rev. Larry Craig>There's <v Rev. Larry Craig>no question that he'd be confused, but he doesn't talk about it. <v Rev. Larry Craig>This is like night and day. These are two completely different lifestyles. <v Joe Montegna>Iran also felt confused about J.R.'s going off to live with another father. <v Iran>He's my son. And usually he's used to see him every day in my house. <v Iran>But in other ways I feel better because, you know, it's uh I wouldn't say it's a
<v Iran>better relationship. He's been since he was small he's always had that relationship with <v Iran>father. He had more confidence, you know. We just uh what I'm tryin' to do is <v Iran>trying ya know bring him back towards where can have conference with me. <v Iran>So until I break that barrier, that's in between us, you know, just let it slowly. <v Iran>But it's working out okay. <v Iran>It's better than being around this neighborhood anyways really. <v J.R.>So he's trying to be around now. <v J.R.>My mother told me they like least give him the chance to prove that he's <v J.R.>our father. <v Joe Montegna>It is Sunday night and J.R. <v Joe Montegna>is getting ready to return to Father Craig's and thinking about his life. <v J.R.>She thinks I might turn into a gangbanger. She probably wouldn't care even if I did. <v J.R.>Father Craig, he cares for me and he just wakes us up and gets us to school. <v Joe Montegna>Father Craig is a busy man. <v Joe Montegna>He's pastor of Assumption BBM Church. <v Joe Montegna>He serves 780 families and also oversees Colby House, <v Joe Montegna>the prison ministry he started to further the work he has been doing for almost 25 years
<v Joe Montegna>with youthful offenders. <v Joe Montegna>He loves J.R., but he feels frustrated because J.R. <v Joe Montegna>has not yet been honest with him about his feelings. <v Joe Montegna>And without honesty, it's hard to trust him. <v Joe Montegna>We're real close to sending J.R. home for good. <v Joe Montegna>Everybody that meets him on our turf likes him. <v Joe Montegna>On the other hand, when you live with him, you realize that he hasn't bought in <v Joe Montegna>to this value system so that you're not sure what <v Joe Montegna>what's most important to him. Is this really who he is when he's here or is he really the <v Joe Montegna>way he is at home or is he not sure? <v Nelly>It scares me. <v Nelly>'Cause I don't know how to handle J.R. <v Nelly>and a part he doesn't want to come back. <v Nelly>There is, ya know, this part where he wants to stay, but then there's this <v Nelly>other part that says, I want to be here so. [beeping] <v Joe Montegna>It's just after 7:00 a.m. on a Monday morning. <v Joe Montegna>And Father Craig is helping J.R. and his roommates, David and Hosea, get
<v Joe Montegna>ready to go to school. <v Rev. Larry Craig>Let's go, let's go, let's go. <v Rev. Larry Craig>Come on, you guys you gotta take the bus today I got to minister. <v Rev. Larry Craig>Hurry up. You know where the clothes. Coats are in my room, Hosea, J.R. <v Rev. Larry Craig>Don't forget gym stuff, Hosea. Gym shoes. <v Rev. Larry Craig>Don't wear anything stupid, huh. <v Rev. Larry Craig>What your gonna embarrass me in school? Oh, that's <v Rev. Larry Craig>great. Take 'em right out of that dirty laundry. Now you can't wear these things. Are you nuts? <v Rev. Larry Craig>You know, if Nelly lived here, everything would be fine. <v Rev. Larry Craig>You know, we'd both go nuts, I'm sure. <v Rev. Larry Craig>But everything would be fine because I would control her life. <v Rev. Larry Craig>But the important thing is for her to get those controls internally so <v Rev. Larry Craig>that she controls her life because she wants to. <v Rev. Larry Craig>And that's what we're trying to do with J.R. and Hosea and David. <v Rev. Larry Craig>They're the most likable kids in the world, but what if I turn my back on him for a <v Rev. Larry Craig>second? They're destructive and they have to get like <v Rev. Larry Craig>every kid to the point where they control themselves, where I don't have to be there.
<v Rev. Larry Craig>Are you sure these fit you? <v J.R.>Yeah. I wore them last night. <v Rev. Larry Craig>Yea well if they fall off in gym class it's gonna be a riot. <v Rev. Larry Craig>Look at this. Look at this spelling stuff on the bus here. <v Rev. Larry Craig>Oh, J.R. are you missing something. <v J.R.>My glasses. <v Rev. Larry Craig>We'll put your glasses on. <v Rev. Larry Craig>He needs, well, as soon as he's out of here, they're off. <v Rev. Larry Craig>He won't wear 'em. And when he gets to school they won't be on. See then he's cool. <v Rev. Larry Craig>You know, See I can dress him up like that because when they're with a priest everybody <v Rev. Larry Craig>expects the to look dorky. See but when they're on their own, then they have to be that. <v Joe Montegna>Father Craig helped buy eyeglasses, not just for J.R., but for everybody <v Joe Montegna>in Nelly's family. <v Joe Montegna>He also pays for J.R., as well as Nellie's other children, to attend Catholic schools. <v Joe Montegna>The tuition coming out of his own modest salary. <v Rev. Larry Craig>Ya know we got a game today too. <v Rev. Larry Craig>Come back on the bus. Come back immediately on the bus 'cause we leave at 3:30. <v Kids>Okay. Bye. <v Rev. Larry Craig>Bye. <v Rev. Larry Craig>Too much. He can be deep.
<v Rev. Larry Craig>He Can be sensitive. <v Rev. Larry Craig>He can care about people. <v Rev. Larry Craig>But still, he has trouble with school. <v Rev. Larry Craig>He doesn't like school. School's not a big value in his social group, <v Rev. Larry Craig>and that's always a problem. We found that with a lot of our kids that are in trouble <v Rev. Larry Craig>school is that that's where it happens. <v Rev. Larry Craig>If they're good in school and they're tied into the school in any way, either <v Rev. Larry Craig>academically or socially or sports wise. <v Rev. Larry Craig>They generally don't get in trouble. <v Rev. Larry Craig>That's just how it happens. And in his case, because he has that thing <v Rev. Larry Craig>about school not liking it. And he's already a year behind. <v Rev. Larry Craig>See then that's a worry for us. <v Rev. Larry Craig>And then values, you know, when the kids were little and they used to play games, you <v Rev. Larry Craig>know how kids play pretend games. What you gonna be when you grow up? <v Rev. Larry Craig>And you wanna be a doctor and lawyer and all that kind of jazz? <v Rev. Larry Craig>Well, he was, he was sitting there and he wanted to work in a cardboard box factory. <v Rev. Larry Craig>So that's kind of his goal for life. Well what the heck kind of goal is that? <v Rev. Larry Craig>So you don't have to have a lot of school to be putting together cardboard boxes. <v Rev. Larry Craig>So school was just not important to him.
<v Rev. Larry Craig>And then there is there's a lot of emotional kind of upheaval in the family. <v Rev. Larry Craig>There's been a lot of trauma. <v Rev. Larry Craig>And he's picked up this. He's never been real good at expressing his feelings. <v Rev. Larry Craig>That's the main problem that we're having right now, that he uh you can't get <v Rev. Larry Craig>him to say what he really what's going to what he really feels. <v Rev. Larry Craig>And that's a real dangerous element. <v Rev. Larry Craig>You can experience a lot of bad things in life, but if you're able to talk about it with <v Rev. Larry Craig>somebody, um you can get through it. <v Rev. Larry Craig>If you're not talking, ya know, then we don't know. <v Rev. Larry Craig>And I think that's one of the reasons why we're worried about where he could go. <v Rev. Larry Craig>All right. So let's go do some layups. <v Rev. Larry Craig>Listen carefully to me when I'm yelling to you. <v Joe Montegna>The junior team from J.R.'s school is playing in a basketball league at St Agnus. <v Joe Montegna>Father Craig coaches J.R.'s team, and although it <v Joe Montegna>consumes a lot of time, he doesn't know how to stop. <v Rev. Larry Craig>I feel guilty all the time that they're growing up not knowing any kind of skills 'cause <v Rev. Larry Craig>no one ever showed him how to play. <v Rev. Larry Craig>So there's a chance for me to spend some time with them.
<v Rev. Larry Craig>And then these other kids, they had a coach and then he he only lasted a week or two and <v Rev. Larry Craig>then he pulled out. So they had the uniforms, the league and all that stuff and they <v Rev. Larry Craig>didn't have any coach. So they they leaned on me to take <v Rev. Larry Craig>it. But the experience is really good for them. <v Dr. Jack Raba>The most important thing here is to stop them from scoring. <v Joe Montegna>Dr. Jack Raba, who went to Quigley seminary with Father Craig, <v Joe Montegna>he now is medical director of the Cook County Jail and coaches the other team. <v Dr. Jack Raba>I see what happens when there aren't structured programs for children, especially young <v Dr. Jack Raba>boys in the neighborhoods in Chicago and the kids that don't make it end up being under <v Dr. Jack Raba>my care at Cook County Jail. [whislte blows]. <v Rev. Larry Craig>Alright, come on, David, come on. <v Dr. Jack Raba>Looking at the 10 years of coaching that we've coached, maybe 140, 160 boys <v Dr. Jack Raba>and so far only one has ended up in jail. <v Dr. Jack Raba>And I don't think you could show that for the rest of the neighborhood. <v Dr. Jack Raba>I think it just stands out that this group, once they get to our level and we can keep <v Dr. Jack Raba>them for a few more years. Most of these will stay out of trouble.
<v Dr. Jack Raba>Some of 'em go on to college. And the only kids that I know in this neighborhood that <v Dr. Jack Raba>have gone on to college were students that Larry, Father Craig or I coached at sometime <v Dr. Jack Raba>during the course of their grammar school times. <v Rev. Larry Craig>Don't look for the shot, okay? They look for the man. <v Rev. Larry Craig>If there's no man and you get a shot, take the shot. <v Rev. Larry Craig>The rest of your game is fine, okay? Now watch what they're doing. <v Rev. Larry Craig>You're doing fine, Dave. Nice play, huh? You're doing fine. <v Rev. Larry Craig>I think you would see if you watched them play, how much they like this, ya know, being <v Rev. Larry Craig>out there in a structured setting and uh with referees <v Rev. Larry Craig>and all that stuff. It's the first time that any of these three <v Rev. Larry Craig>boys have been on a team. <v Rev. Larry Craig>So it's, ya know, that makes it even more important to 'em. <v Dr. Jack Raba>Come on, Lyle, wake up. <v Rev. Larry Craig>Alright, don't admire yourself J.R, get on defense. Get up here. <v Dr. Jack Raba>I'd rather spend a little time working with kids in neighborhoods and children such as <v Dr. Jack Raba>you saw today at Providence. Maybe some of them won't end up in Cook County Jail because <v Dr. Jack Raba>of some of the efforts that volunteers like myself have done.
<v Rev. Larry Craig>Congratulations, to all you guys. Nice job. <v David>So you put divided by? <v Rev. Larry Craig>Yeah, it already was divided by and then you inverted it. <v Rev. Larry Craig>You turn this one upside down and then multiply it. <v Rev. Larry Craig>Isn't that what you're doing? <v Rev. Larry Craig>If this meatloaf burns, buddy, it's gonna be because of your subtraction. <v Joe Montegna>When the kids come home after the basketball game, they start their homework. <v Rev. Larry Craig>Oh yeah, and, you know, you know what you're supposed to be doing? <v Rev. Larry Craig>How many paragraphs? More or less. <v J.R.>Like 8, or 8 or 7. <v Rev. Larry Craig>What's a paragraph? Paragraph's about this long? <v Rev. Larry Craig>Alright. <v Joe Montegna>Father Craig is torn over what to do about J.R., his poor performance <v Joe Montegna>in school and his refusal to talk about the things that most bother him. <v Joe Montegna>Make Father Craig wonder sometimes if he's made any progress at all. <v Rev. Larry Craig>And because of that, it's hard for me to continue to live with him, because what foresee <v Rev. Larry Craig>is five years from now, I foresee this guy trying to drive my car, see? <v Rev. Larry Craig>Crashin' my car up, you know, bringing girls to my house.
<v Rev. Larry Craig>You know, who knows what's going to happen and that foreseeing that makes me real <v Rev. Larry Craig>nervous. But, you know, there's three kids that live here and <v Rev. Larry Craig>Hosea is kind of in the middle, too. <v Rev. Larry Craig>He just can't make up his mind whether this is what he wants to do. <v Rev. Larry Craig>Although, he seems a little closer than J.R. <v Rev. Larry Craig>And the third one, David. This is where David wants to be. <v Rev. Larry Craig>And once they decide this is where they want to be and this is how they want to live. <v Rev. Larry Craig>Then everything changes. With David, I have confidence in him. <v Rev. Larry Craig>I know that he'll be driving my car when he's 16 if he's still here. <v Rev. Larry Craig>You know, I I trust him to go places. I know he's doing what he says he's gonna do. <v Rev. Larry Craig>And if J.R. can make that jump. <v Rev. Larry Craig>And the question for us is is it too late for him? <v Rev. Larry Craig>It may well be. <v Rev. Larry Craig>In the name of the Father and of the Son, and the Holy Spirit. <v Rev. Larry Craig>It's one of the only times we're really on an average day do we get to see each other <v Rev. Larry Craig>because they're in school and they do their homework and they do their homework and <v Rev. Larry Craig>they go to bed. And I have appointments and I'm not around. <v Rev. Larry Craig>[chanting/singing]
<v Joe Montegna>After dinner, Father Craig and the boys attend a special service, one of a series <v Joe Montegna>of Novena's Assumption church held to pray for peace in the Persian Gulf. <v Joe Montegna>[chanting/singing] After the service, J.R. <v Joe Montegna>And the other boys returned to the rectory to finish their home. <v Rev. Larry Craig>He just told me that the other day, he says, I want to come back here for my future. <v Rev. Larry Craig>Pfft, I said, your future, you know? <v Rev. Larry Craig>What, kid, you know, that age is thinking about his future, ya know, but he he thinks he <v Rev. Larry Craig>has to and that's that's an unfortunate sign. <v Rev. Larry Craig>And I know David's worried about that, too and Hosea. <v Rev. Larry Craig>That they believe that they could live in their houses, but they really <v Rev. Larry Craig>wouldn't do as well in school if they stayed there. <v Rev. Larry Craig>That's kind of sad, you know, because that's an internal control thing again. <v Rev. Larry Craig>You want it you want to believe that if they lived in a tent, if they wanted to, they <v Rev. Larry Craig>could finish. <v Rev. Larry Craig>J.R. <v J.R.>Yes? <v Rev. Larry Craig>What are you doing? <v J.R.>I'm cleaning out the soap.
<v Rev. Larry Craig>Get out of the shower, man. You're gonna shrivel up into a prune. <v Rev. Larry Craig>You got this door locked, come on. If I had never known him, he might, most likely would <v Rev. Larry Craig>not have finished high school. Might not have gone to high school and would probably be <v Rev. Larry Craig>ya know, sittin' on the front step drinking beer, if not involved in crime or something. <v Rev. Larry Craig>Now, wouldn't it be wise to find a middle ground between what <v Rev. Larry Craig>I would like to see for him as any parent would for their children and what might have <v Rev. Larry Craig>happened? So if we have a more realistic goal, if I can get J.R. <v Rev. Larry Craig>to finish high school, that doesn't seem like much of a goal in this society, <v Rev. Larry Craig>but it's a very big goal in a neighborhood where 75 percent of the kids don't finish high <v Rev. Larry Craig>school. If he could finish high school and get a job, if <v Rev. Larry Craig>he could relate to other people, you know, so what if he doesn't go to symphonies, <v Rev. Larry Craig>you know? What if he doesn't get heavily into sports? <v Rev. Larry Craig>What if he doesn't have white walls and hang plants in his house? <v Rev. Larry Craig>If he can at least be basically happy and have accomplished that minimal
<v Rev. Larry Craig>amount of things and it maybe his kid will finish college <v Rev. Larry Craig>and go on. You know, that's that's how we're thinking now. <v Rev. Larry Craig>I'm trying to adjust to that because my my inclination as a parent, you know, <v Rev. Larry Craig>is you want the limit. <v Joe Montegna>You don't have to wander very far from J.R.'s House in Humboldt Park to see that <v Joe Montegna>for many kids, having somebody in their life like Father Craig has <v Joe Montegna>made all the difference. <v Carl Harrington>Most of the children in my neighborhood that I grew up with are either out of jobs <v Carl Harrington>or on some sort of drug. <v Rev. Larry Craig>Someone made a difference in the life of Carl Harrington. <v Rev. Larry Craig>As a teenager he helped design, draw, paint and write poetry for this <v Rev. Larry Craig>mural, which is just around the corner from J.R.'s house. <v Rev. Larry Craig>It was created in the summer of 1979, the year J.R. <v Rev. Larry Craig>was born and the International Year of the Child. <v Rev. Larry Craig>Working on it brought profound changes in Harrington's life.
<v Carl Harrington>After the mural, I was not satisfied with going back to the lifestyle <v Carl Harrington>I was used to. Therefore I sought employment and I got hired <v Carl Harrington>as a messenger of the law office. <v Joe Montegna>Harrington, who still works for the same law office now as a paralegal, <v Joe Montegna>recently graduated from Chicago State University and is on his way to Kent <v Joe Montegna>Law School. <v Carl Harrington>Working on this mural made me realize that <v Carl Harrington>I uh can do anything that I wanted to do, so as long as I applied myself <v Carl Harrington>and made an effort. <v Joe Montegna>Artist Jon Weber oversaw the mural project. <v John Weber>For many of these young people, it might have been the first major thing <v John Weber>that they had actually seen successfully through to completion. <v John Weber>Now, I don't think there's anything that builds success better than success. <v Joe Montegna>Someone made a difference in the life of his, Esmagde Cristia, <v Joe Montegna>commander of 250 officers in the 14th Police District.
<v Joe Montegna>An Hispanic police officer taught him when he was a teenager that all doors <v Joe Montegna>were not closed to him just because he was growing up along Division Street with a <v Joe Montegna>Spanish accent. <v Esmagde Cristia>It was amazing because, you know, in those days when this officer was speaking to me, <v Esmagde Cristia>he also had a Hispanic accent. <v Esmagde Cristia>And that was always one of the complexes that I had. <v Esmagde Cristia>I was afraid to to move forward and challenge things, but <v Esmagde Cristia>I realized that he had done it. So I went after it and I hope I could do <v Esmagde Cristia>the same to other kids. <v Joe Montegna>And somebody made a difference in the life of Alfonso Ortiz. <v Alfonso Ortiz>Bobby Corriveau at that time was one of the Puerto Rican's older blood champion. <v Alfonso Ortiz>He told me to come over here and I start coming here and I liked it, <v Alfonso Ortiz>which is good about it is no drug, good discipline. <v Alfonso Ortiz>You feel good, important. You go to pages, everybody says hi to you. <v Alfonso Ortiz>This Ortiz the Golden Gloves champion. Oh he won't let, they rod you, and you want to do
<v Alfonso Ortiz>more and you want to do more and the kids in the neighborhood they want to be like you. <v Alfonso Ortiz>They want to be fireman. <v Alfonso Ortiz>There's as a matter of fact, three years ago, I trained about 20 kids here. <v Alfonso Ortiz>Nine of them are firemen right now. <v Joe Montegna>In some ways, J.R. is lucky. <v Joe Montegna>There are thousands of kids just like him out there. <v Joe Montegna>At the same fork in the road, who don't have anybody caring or pulling for them to <v Joe Montegna>go the right way. The critical question for us as a community is <v Joe Montegna>what can we do to help all of our kids thrive, especially <v Joe Montegna>those who may not be getting everything they need at home? <v Joe Montegna>What does it take, in other words, to produce a healthy human being? <v Speaker>The kid needs one other human being who invests <v Speaker>no holds barred who believes in that kid, and who'll stick with that <v Speaker>kid. And the best chance is a parent <v Speaker>but somebody else can do it.
<v Joe Montegna>Simply put, what we have to do is find more ways to increase <v Joe Montegna>the chances for kids coming out of troubled homes to make contact somewhere <v Joe Montegna>in their lives with caring adults. <v Speaker>It could be a minister. It could be a playground leader. <v Speaker>It could be a drama teacher. It could be a choir leader. <v Speaker>These are all possibilities. And in some communities, we don't have that and we have to <v Speaker>provide the kinds of um opportunities for kids where <v Speaker>we may have to, in effect, make up for it. <v Joe Montegna>Will, J.R. end up being a success story. <v Joe Montegna>There are some hopeful signs. <v Joe Montegna>Nelly registered for classes at St. Augustine College this spring and is taking courses <v Joe Montegna>toward her high school degree. <v Joe Montegna>She wants to be a social worker and get off welfare. <v Speaker>How did you find out about this school? <v Nelly>My girlfriend comes here. <v Joe Montegna>After more than two years of waiting, Iran finally headed back to the hospital to <v Joe Montegna>be fitted for a prostheses. <v Nelly>Maybe things will change after he gets his leg. <v Nelly>Maybe you know he can handle it better.
<v Joe Montegna>Most importantly, Iran and Nellie are communicating better <v Joe Montegna>and trying to pull more together. <v Rev. Larry Craig>I think it's more that the parents aren't always able to assure the kids that they really <v Rev. Larry Craig>still do love them and not to worry about this. <v Rev. Larry Craig>Be secure because we really still are tight. <v Rev. Larry Craig>Because, look, it has been 12 years. <v Rev. Larry Craig>I mean, we may be yelling at each other and everything, but we've been doing this for 12 <v Rev. Larry Craig>years and we always come back to each other and we don't have anyone else seen. <v Rev. Larry Craig>See, that's never happened where they've gone off and lived with somebody else, it's <v Rev. Larry Craig>uh stormy, but it's steady. <v Joe Montegna>Things are looking up for the younger kids. <v Joe Montegna>Rosie, unlike her older sister, Lillian, is getting into the Girl Scouts. <v Joe Montegna>And despite the threats, he's going to send him back home for good. <v Joe Montegna>J.R. is still living during the week with Father Craig. <v Nelly>J.R.'s Got a better chance than us right now. <v Nelly>See, J.R.'s chances would be depending on him because he's getting opportunities <v Nelly>that none of us ever had before.
WTTW Journal
What's Out There for J.R.?
Producing Organization
WTTW (Television station : Chicago, Ill.)
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The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia (Athens, Georgia)
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Episode Description
This is "What's Out There for J.R.'" which is an episode of "WTTW Journal." Joe Mantegna hosts the episode, which asks "What can we do as a community to help the growing number of children who are leaving their homes unprepared to lead independent and productive lives'" It profiles 11-year-old "J.R." as a case study to illustrate the problems faced by young people. J.R. lives part of the time with his family and part of the time with Rev. Larry Craig at Assumption Church. The program looks at J.R., his family, especially his mother, Nelly, and the Humboldt Park community in which they live. Includes footage of the area and J.R. with his family. Includes interviews with gang crimes officer Tony Martinez; area resident Oscar Bosch; "Gitano," a gang member; YMCA gang outreach worker Julio Matias; Joan Costello of Chapin Hall Center for Children; 14th district youth officer Kim Anderson; associate librarian Francisco Arroyo; John Casey, president of the Chicago Metro YMCA; Ray Vazquez of the Logan Square YMCA; Humboldt Park parent Adela Molina; former gang member/current YMCA employee Izzy Garcia; Rosemary Bidne from Lutheran Day Nursery; Larry Arshansky from the Chopin School; Margaret Demopoulos, a teacher from Clemente High School; Jerry Stermer, president of Illinois Voices for Children; Madeline Garcia, DFCS caseworker; volunteer basketball coach Dr. Jack Raba, who is also medical director of the Cook County Jail; law student Carl Harrington; John Weber of the Chicago Public Art Group; 14th district commissioner Esmagde Cristia; and volunteer boxing coach Alfonso Ortiz. Emphasizes the need each child has for an adult who believes in them and will fight for them.
Series Description
"CHICAGO MATTERS, a three-year-long project exploring issues of concern to the community, focused on children in 1991. A unique mixture of programming examines some of the [problems] facing children today and offered viable solutions. "Included in this series are PROTECT YOURSELF: TEACHING YOUR CHILDREN ABOUT AIDS, which addresses one of the leading threats to our youth and promotes prevention through education; WHAT'S OUT THERE FOR J.R', which explores the state of the social service networks that provide help to youths in crisis; the CHICAGO MATTERS TOWN MEETING examines the community support systems available to children, bringing together city officials, park district representatives, parents, children and child development experts in a live 'town meeting' setting."--1991 Peabody Awards entry form.
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Producing Organization: WTTW (Television station : Chicago, Ill.)
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The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia
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Chicago: “WTTW Journal; What's Out There for J.R.?,” 1991-05-13, The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 28, 2022,
MLA: “WTTW Journal; What's Out There for J.R.?.” 1991-05-13. The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 28, 2022. <>.
APA: WTTW Journal; What's Out There for J.R.?. Boston, MA: The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from