Apostle Gillespie, helping people in Englewood escape poverty
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Apostle Gillespie, helping people in Englewood escape poverty

Apostle Walter Gillespie, the senior pastor at Chosen Bethel Family Ministries, had a vision to provide children from disadvantaged backgrounds with the necessary skills to escape poverty. 

“We started in a small storefront on 79th and Luella on the East side of Chicago. Now we are on a 25th-year journey.” Recently, we merged with another church two years ago. It was a perfect marriage.”

He started an after-school tutoring program that eventually grew into a network of 11 different locations, providing services to over 2,400 clients per year.

Apostle Walter

“I started the learning centers about 32 years ago, and what inspired me was recognizing a lot of LATCHKEY KIDS. They returned home after school by themselves with house keys. However, over 30 years ago it was a little safer, but not safe enough for minors with keys.”

The program evolved and expanded over time, providing much-needed support and resources to children from disadvantaged backgrounds and single women in need of assistance. 

“Apostle Gillespie explained, “Shortly after we started the after-school tutoring program, Chicago Community Development Corp began to buy properties and brought us on as their service provider. We provided services for a 24-unit building for single women who came out of a rehab facility or jail. We were instrumental in them getting jobs and their children back.”

During the Covid pandemic, funding became scarce, and Apostle Gillespie had to make some tough decisions. He decided to close down all 11 locations and move everything to the church, where they could provide the same services to a community that was just as needy. 

Apostle Gillespie was able to find a solution by consolidating COHD (Center Of Higher Development) and bringing it under one roof. This will ensure that the necessary services are still available to the Englewood community despite the challenges faced.

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“We used to serve 2,400 unduplicated clients per year. That was our average for at least five or six years. We had to downside, mainly because funding from everywhere was interrupted due to the COVID pandemic.”

Apostle Gillespie was excited to open their CHRC (Community Healing Resource Center) which would promote community resilience, cultivate a healing culture, and create peace by providing resources, training, and programs. 

“The CHRC aimed to empower the Englewood community. Plus provides surrounding communities with the necessary tools to heal and thrive.”

In addition, the CHRC had already engaged over 2,400 members and hosted 79 events, with outreach connections reaching 1,153. Apostle Gillespie was proud of the work they had accomplished and looked forward to the center’s future success.

“I’m excited because it plays a crucial role in promoting community resilience, cultivating a healing culture, and creating peace by providing resources, training, and programs,” Apostle Gillespie said.

“Englewood’s a great community. I love it! I was raised in Englewood, right on 71st and Stewart. However, my family moved out as I got older. But Englewood gets a bad rap. I mean, there are challenges everywhere in the city. My wife always says, “They’re still good in Englewood”.

“We are opening our Community Healing Resource Center next Friday, February 16th. From 10 until 2 pm. We have several dignitaries and influential people coming to support our missions.”