Neighborhood pushes, pulls Auburn Gresham teenager toward adulthood

December 15, 2011

Bill Healy

At 17, Justin Irving is an Auburn Gresham transplant. He and his mother and sisters moved to the South Side neighborhood four years ago. Justin’s mom works long hours to support their family, and Justin says that’s given him an appreciation for how strong many women are. Stronger than a lot of men, he says.

But there are times when all her efforts haven’t been enough to keep everything going at home—like last year when the electricity was shut off.

That family dilemma had Justin seeking out the help of St. Sabina Church at 79th and Racine. The church is one of the most visible landmarks in the neighborhood, and its pastor, Father Michael Pfleger, is a community institution in his own right. 

“Father Mike” helped the family with the power problem, and offered something even more important to Justin—his support and advice.

We hear them both reflecting on the community and their relationship in this story.

Auburn Gresham, Chicago  received support from the Chicago Community Trust’s Local Reporting initiative.