Community Activist ‘Mama Shu,’ continues blight to beauty journey

Avalon Village in Highland Park provides safe space for youth

When it comes to the term “Community Building,” Shamayim Harris, more affectionally known as ‘Mama Shu’ is doing this literally. A native of Highland Park, when Mama Shu saw her neighborhood in ruins, instead of giving up and moving away, she envisioned turning the blight to beauty. After years of hard work and determination, Avalon Village, a community within a community was created.

“It’s really nice how she took abandon buildings and turned them into something beautiful,” said one youth who’s attending a summer camp in the village.

“Just up the road north they have those beautiful things that are going on for the children, so we just wanted to make sure they had an opportunity to be well rounded and enjoy some things also,” Mama Shu tells ‘Live in the D’s’ April Morton.

This urban oasis continues to grow. After 5 years Mama Shu says they finally received their certificate of occupancy for the Homework House. The house will provide a safe after-school space for youth in the community. Kids will have access to homework help, computers, free meals, showers and more. This summer the house is being used for free youth camps.

“I like this camp because kids that are kind of shy get the experience to make new friends and just play and have some fun,” said another camper.

Another new addition to the village is the My 3 Sons basketball court, a full basketball court available for the entire community.

At the end of August Mama Shu will hold their annual ‘Hood Camp’. She says this overnight camping experience gives kids that may not have the chance to attend a camp the opportunity to do so.

To watch the entire interview with Mama Shu, click the video above.