It was a scorchingly hot Tuesday afternoon last summer on a rough corner in South Chicago. Despite the heat, and despite it being the time of day when people normally start rolling in to buy drugs and alcohol, things were a little different that day. Jania, a 17-year-old from the community, pictured above, was smiling, and others around her were, too.
It was the second day in our design-build program, where a group of local teenage girls were working to transform a vacant lot in their neighborhood. Jania was smiling because she had just used power tools for the first time, and just built something—a work bench—for the first time. But she was also smiling because she was seeing her community start to transform due to her actions.