Holy Family Lutheran Church is a small building that sits on land that was once surrounded by high-rise and mid-rise project buildings. Directly to the east is an area of Cabrini-Green once known as “the killing fields.” A dramatically different landscape exists today, but the church and its mission remain. For more than the last two decades, in addition to providing church services, Holy Family has provided a safe haven for children from the neighborhood for 2 hours every day after school. The programs include homework help, in-house games and activities, field trips, and more than anything a safe and nurturing environment for young people to feel welcome for a few hours before heading home.

This program assists in the pivotal years of adolescents growing up in a neighborhood where negative influences are more prevalent than positive ones. Parish Minister Leslie Hunter and his staff ensure that for a few hours a day, the good outweighs the bad.

Holy Family has served as a home base of sorts for the last 4 years for me as well. Regardless of any time passed between visits, I am always welcomed with open arms whether I’m asking to photograph a church service or just looking for a place to warm up in the cold Chicago winter. When I first approached Minister Hunter about photographing the after school program he didn’t hesitate to make arrangements and provide me with any assistance I asked for.

If you’ve never heard of or been to Holy Family, I strongly encourage you to find out more about what the church and it’s programs are capable of achieving, even as the neighborhood surrounding it is rapidly becoming a foreign landscape to the people that return each Sunday. If you’d like to assist Holy Family in any way, whether through your time, food, clothing, or financial donations, Minister Hunter can be reached via email at holyfamily542@yahoo.com, or via phone at 312-337-5433.

I am grateful to him, the Holy Family parishioners, and the children of the after school program for allowing me to roam freely with my camera and allowing me a glimpse inside their lives.