POTOSI, Wisconsin – Plans are underway to create Adam’s Place in rural southwest Wisconsin, a teenage home for teenagers named in honor of the 13-year-old who was shot dead by police in Chicago.
Police officer Eric Stillman shot and killed Adam Toledo in a car chase on March 29 this year, a split second after a video showed he dropped a gun and raised his hands. Adam was dating Ruben Roman, 21, who is charged after prosecutors say he fired the gun that police got on the spot in the first place.
Using technology that tracked gunfire in the area, police arrived less than a minute later and chased both individuals, with Roman being arrested first while another officer continued to run after Adam. The incident sparked a new foot chasing policy in the Chicago Police Department.
Adam’s Place was designed to provide a home for boys at risk along the lines of Boys Farm in South Carolina, a faith-based housing organization for boys in difficult family situations founded by a pastor and his wife in 1960.
One of Adam’s family lawyers, Joel Hirschhorn, said he suggested the idea to Adam’s parents and had long connections with Boys Farm in South Carolina. The goal of the home is to offer boys who might otherwise be caught in gang violence an alternative way of life.
“I told (Adam’s) mom and dad that they would use this strategy and turn their sadness into joy, their despair into hope. The family responded enthusiastically.
“We’re very excited about it,” Adam’s mother, Elizabeth Toledo, told News 3 Now in a brief phone call. “It’s something so that we can save the life of at least one of the children.”
Both parents and three adult children, in addition to Hirschhorn and his wife, family lawyer Adeena Weiss Ortiz and Dr. Wade Dyke, board member of the organization; There are still two places you can fill with members of the Chicago or Milwaukee community.
The home is still in its early stages, with Hirschhorn completing the purchase of approximately 70 acres in the Potosi Township of Grant County and is now working with community members to move it forward. He says the land will stay under his control and rent to Adam’s Place for $ 1 a year until the organization is self-sustaining and then he would sell it back to them.
Initial plans are to house about 10 boys from the Chicago and Milwaukee areas and direct them to Adam’s Place through youth organizations that are looking for candidates for the home. Transfers are not made through juvenile justice, but through non-profit organizations, churches, social services and community members.
Boys will care for rural animals in a similar model to SC’s Boy Farm and will have to participate in faith-based activities, Hirschhorn said.
Hirschhorn estimates that the operation will cost around half a million a year; He currently has raised $ 120,000 and says he has pledged an additional $ 250,000, with contributions ranging from $ 5,000 to $ 20,000.
Potosi community looking for answers
Community members in the Potosi region approach the concept with caution, with guides saying they currently have more questions than answers. Hirschhorn had a meeting with members of the school district on Wednesday that the school said was productive and went well as the district may need to invest in additional resources to properly train all of the youth who come through the organization.
“The community feels they had more questions than answers,” said Mick Whitaker, Potosi village president. “Everything is based on rumors.”
You have scheduled a ward meeting with the attorney to answer some of these questions and plan to meet at the school district building on the evening of August 11th.
“The greatest fear is the unknown,” said Kurt Cohen, Headmaster of the Potosi School District. “This will be brand new to our community, brand new to our school district, and without those answers, people can now fill in their own blanks.”
Overall, Cohen and Whitaker believe that if the project goes as described, both youth and the small community will be of mutual benefit. The village population is less than 1,000; the organization is located a little outside the village limits in the surrounding community. One of the upcoming hurdles is obtaining the necessary building permits from the district, officials say.
Cohen sees it as an opportunity for the small community to deal with different perspectives. “Just the chance to bring someone in from the outside,” he explained.
“I’m excited to see how it gets here and how it all turns out,” noted Whitaker. “It’s definitely good for the children when things go as he says. I hope it does. “
Local community members could have the opportunity to work on an advisory board, Hirschhorn said.
“I go hat in hand, my little tin cup, trying to show that I’m here to build and make this a better place, and I hope to meet some people who are ready to participate. “
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