Diane Latiker, social entrepreneur – CNN Hero

Posted by on Apr 1, 2014 in non profit organization, social entrepreneurship | 1 comment

I want to share some information about a person who must have something wrong with her. The word “crazy” crosses my mind. She is “different” the way so many true heroes are different from most other people.

I am continuing my introductions of five CNN Heroes who have graciously agreed to work with my university department (Sociology and Social Work) and me on our social entrepreneurship master’s degree program. In three previous posts, I shared information about three other amazing people, Pushpa Basnet from Nepal, Eddie Canales from Texas (USA), and Jackson Kaguri from Uganda.

Some of the following comes from the CNN Hero web site.

Ms. Latiker lives in Chicago (USA), and she is driven to help young people in her neighborhood and beyond deal with their difficulties and become successful. Gangs are a part of Ms. Latiker’s neighborhood.

Ms. Latiker wanted to insulate her youngest daughter from the gang members, but she knew that was impossible. Ms. Latiker took the unusual step of inviting gang members, as well as other youth in the neighborhood, into her home. In the early days, before any formal project emerged, she was not certain what would happen when rival gang members were in her home. One time, she had youth from six different gangs in her home at one time. Ms. Latiker opened her home 24 hours a day, seven days a week to neighborhood youth. What?

I’m sure that “crazy” is not the right word to use to describe Ms. Latiker, but…..

Ms. Latiker is driven like other heroes who sometimes place themselves in dangerous situations because of a commitment to a cause. Heroes are found in war. They are also found in everyday life. Many social entrepreneurs are heroes, for they are so strongly committed to a worthy cause that they almost don’t care what happens to them.

I believe Ms. Latiker is a true hero, and I greatly admire her.

She quit her job to focus on spending more time working with youth in her area, and she eventually  started a nonprofit called Kids Off the Block (KOB). Still using her home, the number of youth eventually exceeded the space. Several donors contributed money for a bus, but when Ms. Latiker asked if that money could be used to buy the building next door to her house, which was the same price, the answer was yes.

That building became the KOB Community Center, and from 30 to 50 youth use the Center each day for various activities including tutoring, counseling, sports, and drama.

What an amazing story that began very small and with no intention of starting a nonprofit organization.

When you have time, please read the full story on the CNN Hero web site. The address is: http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/cnn.heroes/archive11/diane.latiker.html

Thank you for reading my small blog.

Best regards. – Keith

  • Diane Latiker

    Thank you for mentioning me Keith, I love the article and I do believe I exhibit some “craziness” to help youth be “normal”!