We do more than serve in our communities. We live, work and play in them. And that’s how Believe ChicagoSM was born. Part of a larger vision, AT&T Believes, this effort was driven by Chicago employees banding together to improve local neighborhoods affected by gun violence and high unemployment.
Today, we want to honor some of the beacons of hope who live in Chicago, including Deborah Leverette. She’s the reverend at the Greater House of Prayer Church and is fighting to make her beloved city a better place to live. Deborah is one of five extraordinary individuals being celebrated in the AT&T original documentary, “Beacons of Hope,” which airs tomorrow, March 15, at 8 p.m. ET/PT on DIRECTV Channel 239, On Demand 1239, DIRECTV NOW, U-Verse & WatchTV.
Here’s some of her story and why she’s passionate about helping the youth of Chicago succeed:
I Just Can’t Quit
I’m a Chicago native.
At 15, I watched my mother die in a pool of blood after a bullet pierced her heart. I was forced to live with my maternal grandmother in Alabama. Four years later, I returned to Chicago. And just 2 months after that, I was called to the hospital to identify my father, who had been shot several times outside of his apartment.
Losing both of my parents to gun violence left me with emotional scars that would take years to heal.
After drowning in tears and unanswered questions, I slowly persevered. I made the decision to work with adolescents who were victims of trauma and/or tragedy. I’ve spent over 25 years helping the youth of Chicago defy the statistics – and succeed.
In 2010, my husband, Pastor Galen W. Leverette, established the Greater House of Prayer Church & Christian Boy Productions. Right before the premiere of the “Beacons of Hope” documentary, I began to feel a huge wave of despondency. I even considered stepping down from my current position as Chief Operating Officer.
The limited support and lack of financial resources started to take a toll on me. Unfortunately, my passion, determination and love for Chicago don’t pay the bills of the not-for-profit, help with students’ tuition or schools supplies, or cover the cost of summer retreats and the performing arts department.
Nevertheless, seeing the other organizations in the documentary brought very different tears to my eyes. I began to realize Greater House of Prayer is not alone in this fight.
I sat and revisited why I made a commitment to social service and ministry. My faith was immediately renewed. Community service and ministry in Chicago will test your will. Albeit challenging, creating a successful trajectory for others is worth the struggle and the sacrifice.
So, I just can’t quit!