How a Maywood Native Pours His Heart Into A Greater Good

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Greater Good co-founders Patrell Green,Anthony Garland, Charles Carter and Cody Cotton during a recent benefit gala. | Submitted photo || Below, Greater Good co-founders along with members of nonprofit’s leadership team and Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin, left of center, in Austin on July 5. | Michael Romain/VFP

Greater GoodWednesday, July 5, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

During a press conference held on July 5 at a park in Chicago’s West Side Austin neighborhood, Maywood native Cody K. Cotton stood with Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin (1st) — who convened the conference — civil rights activist Jesse Jackson Sr. and other community leaders to demand that leaders like Chicago’s mayor, Rahm Emanuel, and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle say something about the July 4th weekend.

“We had over 100 people shot in Chicago since Friday,” said Boykin. “I’m totally disappointed that the mayor has yet to make a statement about that fact. Mayor Emanuel didn’t say anything but he tweeted about the Taste of Chicago.”

Boykin — whose district covers a significant part of Proviso Township, including Bellwood, Broadview and Maywood — announced that his office will be hosting four State of Emergency meetings in high-violence areas across Chicago. And Jackson announced that he’ll be marching in downtown Chicago this Saturday at noon to keep the pressure on city and county leadership.

For Cotton, the co-founder and communication chief of A Greater Good Foundation — a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that offers mentoring services for young people in the western suburbs (particularly areas like Bellwood and Maywood), and Chicago’s West and South Sides — every day is a state of emergency.

“This is our state of emergency,” Cotton said. “We got started last May, over Memorial Day weekend, when 69 people got shot. We have to get to the root of the problem.”

Cotton, who dedicates most of his time to Greater Good while holding down several jobs, said that his organization doesn’t focus all of their energy on how to stop the violence. Their mission, he said, is much more comprehensive.

“There’s a polar opposite to anything. Whatever we give energy to it will grow. It can’t be all about violence,” he said. “It has to be about peace and love, and it has to be a mentality change, a paradigm change.

“You can only do that by reaching kids where they’re at. We’re trying to reach them through books and things like that. Times have changed. Our kids don’t have an intellectual problem, they have an interest problem.”

Cotton co-founded Greater Good along with with Anthony Garland, Charles Carter and Patrell Green. In just over a year, the organization has formed a 10-member board of directors that includes an Austin, Texas-based CEO, an HR director from Houston and a CEO from Ireland.

Currently, the group works with over 120 young people from sixth-grade to college, and offers them community service opportunities, takes them on college tours and hammers out career blueprints for them, among many other services.

“Over the next two years, we plan on reaching 1,500 kids throughout Chicago and the suburbs,” said co-founder Carter, who is also the organization’s president. “In the next five years, we’ll definitely be a citywide organization.”

The group is also actively looking to acquire property to create a positive community space between the Austin community and Proviso Township, Cotton said.

“We want it to be a safe and convenient environment for them,” he noted. “We’ll provide transpiration from point A to point B.”

For now, the ambitious co-founders said, the goal is to secure funding to help scale up their vision. They plan on meeting with Boykin later in the week, they said.

“The county has a tremendous amount of resources and the county can do a lot to help organizations like this,” Boykin said. “I think this organization provides hope for young men who otherwise wouldn’t have it. A can live about three days without water, they can live about six minutes without oxygen but you can’t live one second without hope.”

For more info on the A Greater Good Foundation, click here or here. VFP

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One thought on “How a Maywood Native Pours His Heart Into A Greater Good”

  1. I say this with respect of this mentoring program. We need to stop looking for politics to solve problems. The politics support gun laws, poor education an jail systems its all about money. The people realize they are being played with, by those politicians who say they care. No politicians spoke against gun laws, which is being used to kill people. The guns is showing up in kids hands, that use to be impossible but it has become normal now. The kids are not being taught how to handle conflict by using critical thinking through our school system. The kids don’t see themselves successful in the school program so our kids develope low self esteem.
    The kids are not stupid, they see our leaders don’t understand the streets, by the leaders immature speeches. When you speak about gang turf is the call for violence, is dead wrong. The gang guys is fighting over old beef(revenge)or money. The gang guys is looking for who put them behind them bars for years so they can seek revenge, which became a lost chance of becoming somebody. Once the gang guys look back at what place them in this position, poverty, low education an being used for economic value, anger become violence. The penal system is crime school, not rehabilitation. You must stop playing politics with people lives, due to their unfair an unequal situation.

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