Home
In this issue
April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review March 12, 2014 / 10 Adar II, 5774

Social worker still mourns loss of 12-year-old

By John Kass

John Kass


JewishWorldReview.com | Not every child can be saved.

Not every kid who grows up broken can be steered away from bad choices by caring adults toward some new life, one with a purpose.

But Valerie Groth, a veteran Chicago Public Schools social worker at New Sullivan Elementary School on the South Side, believed she had found that boy.

She just knew she could save him, because this was a boy who was determined to save himself.

So she envisioned it, the scrawny 12-year-old who bounced happy and laughing into her office, that boy from a violent South Chicago neighborhood called The Bush, the boy growing, going to college, getting a job, raising a family, getting away.

Groth isn't some rookie believing she can work miracles with every child. She's been a social worker in tough neighborhoods, helping broken children, for seven years. She has a caseload of some 900 kids.

Not all can be helped. They grow up in difficult circumstances at home and try to survive the hunger games on the street. Many don't make it. But this one could, because this boy had life in him. People liked him. More importantly, he liked himself.

And he had visions of his own about the future, with a career and a family. He even made a vision board, filling it with quotes about climbing the corporate ladder, and how all good things start with a single step. One quote said simply, "You can see clearly now."

He could see his future, and so could she.

"Ryan was just one of a kind. He just had a great spirit. He was happy-go-lucky, always smiling -- just really goofy, always trying to put a smile on everyone else's face," said Groth. "The funny thing is that he had a tough life, so he had every reason to be upset. And I never saw that."

Then she stopped talking. The petite young woman was shrinking, considering, remembering. We were sitting in an Armenian restaurant. Behind her was the window. She hardly touched her food. The afternoon sun lit her face, and her lip trembled.


She called him Ryan, the name he wanted her to use, and the name his family used. But in The Bush, the kids called him "Peanut." His given name is Niazi, but it was misspelled by the morgue when he died and misspelled later in this column when I began writing about forgotten victims. Niazi was forgotten, and misspelled.

A bullet pierced his brain on May 19, 2012, as he was running home. The shot caught him right outside his house.

His killing didn't make big news, hardly any news at all. And it didn't prompt great political speeches, and televised tears and official fists shaking in rage because there was no currency in his death for the politicians.

The NATO summit was opening. All Chicago wanted to know was: What will the mayor and police chief say? What will the protesters do?

The murder of Niazi Ryan Banks, 12, remains unsolved.

There's a cost to remembering the death of this child. But there is a cost to forgetting, too, and Groth doesn't want to forget him.

"It doesn't make anything better, but it was just disgusting to me that nothing seemed to be done about it," she said. "It was not on the news stations. And I wanted to see that. I felt like he needed that.

"He was a little kid. I felt like if it was a pretty white girl from the North Side, of course it would be all over the place.

"But just because ..." Groth started to break. "He was such a good kid. And he deserved (news coverage). It's not fair. He was a person too."

She lives in the South Loop, near where the NATO summit was held, so to avoid the congestion and protests she spent that weekend at a suburban hotel. She got the call Sunday morning. Later, she was told that she screamed.

But she had work to do, to properly bury this boy from a troubled home. There was a funeral to plan, cemeteries and churches to contact, and grief counseling for the students, many of whom are forgotten too.

"That was really, really hard for me," she said. "Your primary emotion is sadness, and then the rest of it was just like anger. Horrible anger and bitterness."

The young social worker said she didn't want this column to be all about her.

I told her it would and it wouldn't.

There are also the 900 who depend on her.

"You're hungry, you feel neglected, you witness violence, you live in a really cold house," she said of those children in tough neighborhoods. "You don't have a parent that's willing to help you with your homework or study for a test."

And there are others who bear similar scars. How many teachers have lost a child they tried to help? How many social workers, how many neighborhood volunteers?

And then there are the cops, and the paramedics who cradle children as they die, or find an infant cold in a basement. When they come home, their husbands or wives ask, "How was your day?" and they say nothing.

They're part of Chicago's forgotten too, like Groth, and like Niazi Ryan Banks, the boy with that vision board.

Many people in this town are thick with scars, and we don't notice. But if you try, as Ryan said, you can see clearly now.

ARCHIVES

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

John Kass is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune. Comments by clicking here.

• Archives



© 2014, Chicago Tribune. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles

Quantcast