In April of 1999, phones rang all across the city of Chicago in response to Larry Butterfield’s desperate call to action. He had just sat through a “where are they now,” presentation cataloguing the lives of hundreds of grammar school kids he had been ministering to over the past decade in the infamous Cabrini Green public housing projects.
To his dismay, many of them had tragically lost their way as teenagers. Once full of promise, dreams, and hope for the future, most of the young men and women he ministered to were now on the path to destruction. Nearly all of them were fatherless, dozens had dropped out of school, and many others were swallowed up by local street gangs, using or selling drugs, in prison, pregnant, or even dead. Larry decided something had to be done. Someone needed to fill the gap and care for these at-risk teens.
Over the next five years all the pieces for a teen outreach ministry fell into place. Phone calls were answered with compassion, people gave generously to the cause, and some even left their jobs to serve. In September of 2004, GRIP Outreach For Youth, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, was created to address the needs of fatherless teenagers in Chicago and connect them with caring Christian mentors in life-on-life relationships.