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WHAT: Little Village Celebrates New Soccer Field Grand Opening                                           

WHEN: Wednesday, August 29, 4:00-7:00 p.m., program 5:00 p.m.

WHERE: Gary Elementary/Ortiz de Dominguez Elementary athletic field

Northwest corner of 31st Street and Lawndale Avenue, Chicago

 

Alderman Munoz, community groups celebrate opening of new Southwest Side soccer field

Project expands safe, family-friendly recreation opportunities as part of larger effort to enhance quality of life in Little Village, earning prestigious national safety award.

CHICAGO (August 27, 2012)– Little Village, the most park-starved neighborhood in the city, will get some breathing room Friday with the grand opening of a new soccer field at 31st Street and Lawndale Avenue.

Residents and neighborhood organizations will join 22nd Ward Alderman Ricardo Munoz from 4:00-7:00 p.m. to celebrate the new field on the shared grounds of Gary Elementary and Ortiz de Dominguez Elementary schools. It’s replacing an old and worn natural turf field – in such bad shape it was frequently useless. The new field will allow nearly year-round play, providing much needed recreational space for students and residents throughout the neighborhood.

You wouldn’t think a patch of green would be a tough sell, but in a neighborhood with precious little open space, even improving what was already there was tricky business. Like nearly every community development project these days, the new field happened because of the persistence of a few stubborn organizations and people who appreciate the value of a place where kids and adults can safely exercise and have a little fun.

Enlace Chicago, a community development organization, and Beyond the Ball, which seeks to expand access to recreation and life skills for local youth, generated initial steam for the field, while Alderman Munoz led the effort to get money to pay for it. And that was no small thing. The U.S. Soccer Foundation kicked in $70,000, with Munoz securing the remaining $1.5 million in city funds. Chicago Public Schools is managing the project.

Also at the ceremony, MetLife Foundation will honor Beyond the Ball and the Chicago Police Department for their creative efforts to transform spaces with a history of crime and violence into safe and accessible recreational areas. The partnership was selected from a pool of more than 560 applicants from across the country for one of 10 MetLife Foundation Community-Police Partnership Awards. Beyond the Ball will receive $15,000 to advance the partners’ joint public safety activities. For 11 years, MetLife Foundation and Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) have honored innovative partnerships between community organizations and police departments which promote neighborhood safety and revitalization.  Jose J. Perez, LUTCF, Special Needs Planner at MetLife will present the MetLife Foundation Award. 

Little Village is one of Chicago’s most densely populated working-class neighborhoods, yet has few public recreational facilities. Enlace Chicago, Beyond the Ball, and their community partners have made expanding access to safe parks and open space a priority through a local quality-of-life plan developed in conjunction with LISC Chicago’s New Communities Program, which supports locally driven, comprehensive community development. Beyond the Ball will program the playing field to provide healthy activities for youth and to reclaim open green space for the public.

About Enlace—

Enlace Chicago is dedicated to making a positive difference in the lives of residents of the Little Village community in Southwest Chicago by fostering a physically safe and healthy environment in which to live and by championing opportunities for educational advancement and economic development. Through our four program areas, Community Education, Violence Prevention, Community Enrichment, and Economic Development, Enlace Chicago directly serves more than 5,000 youth and adults.

About Beyond the Ball—

Beyond the Ball is an organization that uses the power of sport to change lives, give hope, reclaim space and develop a culture of opportunities for youth and families in Chicago. We develop youth through a number of programs that help change the negative norms present in neighborhoods and replace them with a positive culture. We also create opportunities for residents to build community through projects that reflect the personal and social responsibility learned in our programs. So while we invest in youth to grow community leaders for the future, we are simultaneously making an impact right now.

About LISC Chicago—

LISC Chicago organizes capital and other resources to support initiatives that stimulate the comprehensive development of healthy, stable neighborhoods and foster their connection to the socioeconomic mainstream of the metropolitan region. Since 1980, LISC Chicago has infused more than $196 million into housing, human and economic development projects, leveraging a total of $4.8 billion in aggregate community investment.  The results are quantifiable: with LISC support nearly 30,000 units of affordable housing and 5 million square feet of commercial space have been developed and more than 20,000 Chicago residents have been engaged in planning, provided training, or direct service to improve their quality of life.

About MetLife Foundation—

MetLife Foundation was established in 1976 to continue MetLife’s longstanding tradition of corporate contributions and community involvement. The Foundation's commitment to building a secure future for individuals and communities worldwide is reflected in its dedication to empowering older adults, preparing young people and building livable communities.  Since it was established, MetLife Foundation has provided more than $530 million in grants and $70 million in Program-Related Investments to nonprofit organizations addressing issues that have a positive impact in their communities. For more information visit www.metlife.org.

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