Personal Stories

  • Embrace Every Available Gesture

    “People think, ‘What’s my calling? What am I doing that’s important?’ There’s many calls to answer. Pick up the damn phone already.”

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  • I Think I Saved a Life Today

    Decades ago, he was a gang chief. Today, he’s helping youth on Chicago’s West Side follow a different path. “They tell you not to take your job home with you but… you do,” says Martin “Marty” Murff, a program supervisor with UCAN’s Violence Intervention and Prevention Services. “It’s redemption, for me; that I’m giving back… Read more »

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  • From Readers to Leaders

    “Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.”

    – Margaret Fuller, author and activist

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  • Preparing for a New Year

    Every year we like to send our youth back to school prepared – mentally, emotionally, and with a backpack of essentials!  For the sixth year in a row, volunteers from Winston and Strawn joined us and Back2School Illinois to build 300 back to school kits for our youth – doubling their amount of kits lasts… Read more »

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  • Throw It In The Fire

    The Express Performance Therapy program, founded in 2018 by UCAN therapists Dejanae Byrd and Deanna Pacelli, helps our youth explore new emotions and encourages self-discovery through acting.    For many of the youth, this is their first experience with acting, though some have dabbled with school plays. Express isn’t meant to feel like therapy, it’s… Read more »

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  • Chance Connections to Deepened Relationships

    By Andrea Lee, MPA, Manager of External Affairs April was National Volunteer Month, which to me, is a month of possibilities: possible connections, possible relationships, possible awakenings to one’s own city. I am dedicated to connecting community members to UCAN’s programs and people in meaningful ways. Through these relationships across geography, wealth, age, race, and… Read more »

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  • Opportunity Doesn’t Knock

    Chase Larkin is a living, breathing example of UCAN’s vision and mission: he went from passively attending a youth group to leading it. 

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  • UCAN Celebrates Women

    UCAN practices and celebrates diversity, equity and inclusion year round, and in honor of International Women’s History Month held two women-centric events for all genders.

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  • Retracing MLK’s Footsteps: A Day of Service

    “Today we are celebrating Dr. King while also coming out to support our community,” said Nadine Toussaint, a student at UIC. 

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  • Mentees to Mentors

    At the very core of UCAN is youth development. It’s the underlying constant within each program, and of the tools used to support their development, mentoring remains one of the strongest and most effective. “Mentor” can mean someone who you look up to or someone you aspire to be. It can be someone who pushes… Read more »

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