YMCA Urban Warriors Veterans and Youth Graduate, Receive Awards

August 02, 2018


The Spring 2018 Urban Warriors graduation recognized 5 returning military veterans and 18 youth from west and south side of Chicago."

On Saturday, July 28, the YMCA recognized 18 youth from the Little Village, Pilsen, and South Chicago communities and five post 9-11 military veterans for completing the YMCA of Metro Chicago’s Urban Warriors program. Urban Warriors, part of the Y’s Youth Safety and Violence Prevention (YSVP) initiative, is a dynamic peer support group that brings together recent military veterans and youth with high levels of trauma exposure. Walking together through a 16-session curriculum, youth in this program learn positive strategies for coping with trauma and loss and are given key tools for improving their physical, mental and emotional health.


At the graduation, which was held at the Rauner Family YMCA, Jadhira Sanchez, Urban Warriors Director welcomed guests. After a few words from YSVP Executive Director Chico Tillmon and YMCA of Metro Chicago President and CEO Dick Malone, the Honorary Urban Warriors Plaque was presented to George E. Hood, Indian Boundary YMCA’s Fitness Director and advocate of the Urban Warriors program. He is also a military veteran and retired DEA agent. In June, George broke the world record for the longest plank and established a new one for the most plank time accumulated in 24 hours while raising $1,700 for Urban Warriors.

Other awards presented at the graduation event included the Spring 2018 “Larry” Award for Marshall Everett, Urban Warriors veteran, for his exceptional commitment to youth, and YSVP youth Marquis Saffold received the Spring 2018 Abner Garcia Outstanding Youth Alumni Award for his displayed growth of character and positive change in Urban Warriors. Graduates of the South Chicago and Pilsen/Little Village cohorts were recognized after a live performance by Jelani Davis, a participant of YSVP’s Story Squad.

View photos from the graduation on Facebook.

To become a mentor, contact Julio A. Cortes, Urban Warriors Veteran Coordinator, at jcortes@ymcachicago.org.

Donate online to support the Urban Warriors program.