– The program you’re in, it literally helps kids off the street and back into the classroom or into the workforce. Why were you compelled to run this out of your own home? – Well my husband and I have eight kids of our own, four boys and four girls.
We had one at home, Aisha was the last one, 13, I wanted to make sure she graduated high school and went to college. So I was hanging out with her and her friends, right. My mom saw her, she said you should do something with those kids, they’re lacking respect, I said no, I don’t want to do that, I’m gonna be free after Aisha’s gone.
– Yeah. – I thought. But it didn’t happen like that, there was a higher power that said, do something with them. Sat down and listened to them, the boys were being chased by the gangs, they all were failing at school.
I was just a mom, but I wanted to help them. So I sold our family TV, got some new, well, used computers. And started helping them with homework. That’s how it all started. (audience clapping) – So how many kids did you start with, and how many are part of the program today? – We started with nine kids from the neighborhood, then in the span of almost three months, there was 75 kids in our three bedroom apartment, day and night.
We just celebrated 15 years, and so there’s been thousands that’s been through our programs, they’ve been to our events, like we feed like hundreds of kids and their families for Thanksgiving. Then every year we give 250 families toys for Christmas.
– Tell people what the neighborhood is like where these kids are from. – It’s gang infested, y’all. The kids feel they have no other choices, that’s one of my biggest issues. Is giving those kids hope, making them believe that they have people in their community who care about them, can help them.
I’m sorry, I always get emotional, people say I shouldn’t, but it’s hard. I lost five young people to violence in the last two years. And so it’s a rough battle. But if we don’t do it, if we don’t do that, who’s gonna do it for us? Those kids need somebody.
(audience clapping) – See, I think people who are not from conditions like this, they can’t really understand. Well why don’t they just go to school? Why don’t they just get an education? Why don’t they move? Well, let me tackle a couple of them.
Why don’t they just get education, they going to school. But you gotta get to the school. The other point is, they always say, why don’t they move. Poor people can’t just move. You in the projects, you deep in the hood, you gotta find another place that you can afford.
Well guess what that other place is. – In the hood. – In the other hood. If you were born into poverty, the average American has a 4% chance of escaping it. – Yes, sir. – If you go into the African American community that’s poor, the number drops below four.
What do you think a solution to this could be? – I would like to see one, our kids invested into. They should not be on the bottom of the totem pole. The perception is that all black young people are bad.
– Right. – So I try to counter that with positive stuff. Number two, I want to see our communities invested into. Kids shouldn’t have to worry about their school closing, mental health facilities closing.
No grocery store. Why is that put on a kid? That shouldn’t be there like that, Steve. – Exactly. – And third, I wish everybody would decide to just help young people. Period. (audience clapping) – To get done what she’s talking about is gonna take everyday people, not rich people.
– Everyday, everyday people. – But everyday people with a five dollar contribution here, 10 dollar contribution there. You were honored by L’Oreal Cosmetics as one of their Women of Worth. – Yes. – What has that experience been like for you.
– Man that’s been phenomenal, I get chills even thinking about it because they said, you’re worth it, Diane, and we want to help you. And they’ve been helping us ever since, too. To build the organization, to get exposure, to help the kids that we service, right.
And so Karlie Kloss, she did a fundraiser after I spoke in New York at the awards ceremony. I came home, I see this going down my Facebook timeline. This model saying help her get this house next door.
And I’m like, wait a minute, she’s talking about me. And so she raised $55,000, y’all. (audience clapping) Yeah, give it to her. The building next door was 80,000, L’Oreal came in and paid the rest of it, right.
So the building is gonna be a technology entrepreneurship center that’s gonna teach kids, give them skills. (audience clapping) – I can’t tell you how grateful I am, and so many people are, for the work that you’re doing.
You’re saving it on a grassroots level. It don’t take a lot to save a child. – No. – It takes something to save a child. You’ve got to instill a belief in a young person. – Yes. – Hey look, we want to help you out, you know.
So what we’re gonna do, is we’re gonna give you $5,000 (audience clapping) so you can continue to help the city of Chicago. That’s just a little thing. We’re gonna see if we can’t do more for you. We’re gonna put some eyeballs on your program, and see if we can’t really help you out.
Best of luck to you, Diane. – [Diane] Thank you. – Thank you so much, Diane. – Thank you. – Thank you. Hey look, if you want to contribute to Kids Off the Block, head over to SteveTV.com. We’ll be right back.