Editor’s Note: This is part of a special series, Moms Who Wow Us, where we partnered with , , and the show to honor everyday heroes ahead of Mother’s Day. You can read about all the moms we’re celebrating here.
Jennifer's incredible story touched Today co-anchors Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb — and they've selected her as their "Amazing Mom" honoree.
In 2008, when single mother Jennifer Maddox, now 46, needed a second job to help support her two sons, the Chicago native and police officer also became a security officer at one of Chicago’s sprawling housing projects. While on duty, Jennifer noticed that many of the 1,200 kids who lived there were getting into trouble simply out of boredom.
"There were no safe spaces or places at all for the kids to be kids, to play ball, jump rope or anything,” Jennifer says. “The lack of resources and lack of community spaces for young people sparked something inside of me.”
After earning the trust of the residents, she convinced the building’s management to let her provide after-school activities for the kids when she wasn’t patrolling. In 2011 she officially founded , a nonprofit organization that provides after-school and summer activities in addition to mentorship for children who are 18 and under. To date, crime in the housing project has decreased by 70% and Jennifer has helped more than 800 kids stay out of trouble — many of whom have come back as volunteers to the program.
GET MORE INSPIRATION! In the series “Amazing Moms Today,” airing the week of May 7 on NBC’s Today, Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb will highlight moms making positive changes in their communities.
Giving back is part of 's DNA, which is why they're applauding these inspiring moms by providing roundtrip flights for their appearance on NBC's Today.
Find out how to support the cause at .