GARY — The Urban League of NWI presented a check in support of youth-driven program headed by a Merrillville resident who lost two brothers to gun violence.
The local organization donated $2,500 to Aaliyah Stewart, founder of the "I Am Them Hope Youth Center." Stewart is raising donations to fund the renovation and operational costs for a youth center in Gary's Glen Park neighborhood on Broadway.
"We are proud to be able support this ambitious, intelligent and incredibly strong young lady," said Dr. Vanessa Allen-McCloud, president and CEO of the Urban League of NWI. "She has taken on a Herculean task that will undoubtedly change the lives of countless young people. She deserves our support."
Since 2014, the ASW Foundation has been active in mentoring programs, community outreach, school assemblies and an annual school supply giveaway for young students.
The youth center will be at 3812 Broadway in Gary and will include four classrooms, a kitchen, bathrooms and a reception area on the main floor and a dance and music studio, trauma center for counseling services and a conference room downstairs.
When Stewart was 14, she began advocating against gun violence after losing her two brothers and a cousin in shootings.
"I want to do my part to ensure that young people have a safe place to go learn, have fun and express themselves," said Stewart. "Opening this youth center might even save some lives, and I'm definitely fine with that."