Deon Bell was a restless child, which initially led him to the streets. Since then, he’s been able to harness the life that lies inside him.
Reunitie Harmon walks down a quiet 24th Street in Park West. Harmon’s casual appearance is consistent with the quiet confidence she projects. “I tell people: unless you hear my story, you’ll never know my struggles — that’s my thing. ‘Cause I never wear it on my face — I always wear a smile — so unless you see my struggles or you hear about it, you’ll never know about what I’m going through.”
Amy Tim stands in front of a stoop in Harambee with a couple of her kids nearby. Tim, who grew up on Milwaukee’s northwest side, has been in-between two worlds for as long as she can remember. “I struggled … growin’ up because my mother was African-American and I’m bi-racial,” she says. “Bein’ a bi-racial child, it was hard for me.” Amy calls it “difficult” and “complicated” growing up in Black neighborhoods with her mother. “I’ve never been accepted by either black or white people,” she says. For a long time, Tim let that get to her. Eventually, though, she decided she had to do something to make the situation better. “I just had to endure the pain myself,” says Amy. “I just had to be like, ‘Okay, I gotta live with it.’ I can’t change it.” “You have to accept who you are to … grow and become the person you want to [be],” she says.“You can’t worry about what other people think.” Community-focused. Community-funded. Become a member today. While she was still in …
Joseph Fornicola stands outside his home, shirtless, smoking a cigarette near the corner of South 9th Place and West Dakota Street on Milwaukee’s south side. Fornicola has a tough look about him, a feeling aided by the many tattoos that adorn his upper body. Then again, he’s spent his whole life on the South Side, most of it around gangs and drugs. “It became a part of my daily life,” says Fornicola of the gang life. “Till I grew up and realized that’s childish. Had to [outgrow] it, but, for a while, you know, growin’ up, you’re impressionable.”
Helen LeFlore relaxes in the passenger seat of a large, red-colored truck on a quiet street in McGovern Park. The door sits open. Helen, who was born in Detroit, seems comfortable here — at home even. “I’ve been in Milwaukee off and on all my life, due to the point my mom is here, my dad is there, so it’s been a back-and-forth thing,” she says. “Once I got old and was able to make my own decisions, I stayed here in Milwaukee with my mom, ‘cause there was more family here.”
Peaches Ellis leans against a railing of her porch in Sherman Park. The 49-year-old wears a wide smile; her bellowing laugh can be heard early and often, in between sentences, up and down a sunny 41st Street. “It was beautiful, it really was,” says Ellis of growing up in Milwaukee. “That was a long time ago. But it was beautiful because it was more peaceful, everybody got along, everybody helped one another.”
Katie Glembin sits on the concrete stoop of her family’s home in Jackson Park. Glembin’s 8-year-old daughter and another young girl rotate between playing in the yard and sitting beside her. “She’s my best friend,” says Glembin, who’s a single mom. “It’s just been great, just us two. I mean, obviously, two incomes are better than one, but we’ve made it work.”