From down the block you can see them: Balloons strung skyward on a family’s
front gate, a patchwork of poster boards taped to the fence, full of photos
and messages with “Happy Birthdays” stacked alongside “RIPs.”
Candles on the sidewalk spell out “Rey” – the first name of a 14-year-old
Humboldt Park teen Rey Dorantes, who was gunned down late Friday night on his
own front porch. He would have turned 15 Tuesday.
But Humboldt Park residents have rallied in support Dorantes and his family,
helping to raise more than $2,000 for funeral expenses and dropping off meals
to the home.
Many have cooked food and contributed to the Rey Dorantes Dreams Foundation,
the fund set up by the teen’s family to offset funeral costs. But some residents
only knew Dorantes’ family in passing, or just found out about the
neighborhood’s efforts through sites like Everyblock.
Jo Ann Tenev, Dorantes’ stepmother, said she is amazed by the community response, especially the
support of strangers.
Lauren Hall, who has lived in the area for over a year, met the family this
summer. She said after she heard of Dorantes’ death, she wanted to help in
Hall asked friends and family in Chicago to take meals
to the family. She posted her
efforts to deliver meals on Everyblock, where other residents also have
volunteered to deliver dinners through Monday.
“People really feel the gravity of it,” Hall said.
Traci Moss will bring her meal on Monday. Dorantes was killed a few blocks
from her home, and this was a chance to support the family. She said though
neighborhood relationships are a little fractured, “reaching out to neighbors
is the kind of community-building to prevent these things from happening in
Hall said most volunteers were strangers to her and came from all different
backgrounds. But regardless of socio-economics, she said, a tragedy like Dorantes’
shooting is a reminder that they are all – new and older residents -- part of
the same community. “It’s affecting all of us,” she added.
Peter Walke lives a few houses down from Dorantes’ family. He knew them just
from their greetings when he walked his dog, and he visited the family shortly
after the shooting. “I just gave Jo Ann [Tenev] my card and said ‘if there’s
anything I can do, let me know,” he said.
Walke found out about the funeral costs and wanted to help the family
mobilize support online. He created a Facebook page and linked the Foundation
to a PayPal account and FundRazr, an online fundraising tool. He alerted the
community through Everyblock and posted flyers in local businesses.
As of Wednesday, the Foundation had raised more than $2000, Walke said.
Online contributions have ranged from $5 to $300. Most come from addresses
near Humboldt Park, though others arrived from as far as Louisiana and Ohio.
The addresses of the donators showed Walke that residents were taking a
stand. “We have a duty to this neighborhood to make it our own,” he said.
“Maybe that’s what the difference it.”
Tenev said that as of Tuesday night, the family had raised enough to make the
Proco Joe Moreno (1st) said Wednesday in an email that deaths like
Dorantes weren’t just numbers. “When institutions fail, the immediate
community often fills the void, which seems to be happening here,” he said.
The neighborhood’s reaction has proved the loss her stepson’s death is to the
community, Tenev said, adding that Rey [Dorantes] was always trying to
cheer people up or jumping up to help with the laundry or to run errands to
the grocery store.