Woman, neighborhood turn dilapidated Englewood home into community center

CHICAGO — Police, activists and residents alike are constantly working to curb violence in Chicago.

But one woman’s unusual idea has brought peace and calm to some in the heart of one of the city’s worst neighborhoods: Englewood.

"Initially, everyone thought I was the police," says Robbin Carroll.

The first time Quentin Mables met Carroll, Mables and his friends were playing basketball.

"I looked up the street and there was Robbin on the corner," Mables says. "Myself and my friends were like, 'Who's this white woman standing on the street corner giving away sandwiches?'"

She was their new neighbor.

'She asked me if I wanted to take back my community," Mables says.

From that day forward, the two had a bond. A business owner for 35 years, Carroll says she purchased this Englewood property in 2013 after attending a speech by a Nobel Prize winner from Liberia. Carroll used her own money to fund the rehab project of the abandoned and dilapidated two-story home.

But it was the teamwork and muscle of her neighbors that rebuilt this home. Once they completed the home, Carroll turned it into a community center she calls “ I Grow Chicago/Peace House.”

It's a place where people come to learn, create and, more importantly, get to know one another. There's something for everyone.

“She means everything to this community," Mables said. "You know the community respects her, and she respects the community.”

Carroll and her neighbors are in the process of purchasing additional homes on the block, in hope of expanding and making the block a peace campus.