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Building Our Own Community, Inc. (B.O.O.C., pronounced “book”)

is a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3), community-based organization established in 1999 by Bishop Lance Davis. The agency was founded with the mission of restoring and strengthening poor and underserved communities and populations in south suburban Cook County. This is accomplished by B.O.O.C. presenting programs and activities that develop youth, enhance education, foster economic development, and address health issues for the purpose of strengthening families and, in turn, stabilizing the entire community.

From its inception in 1999, the BOOC sought to make a difference in the South Suburban Cook County community. Initially, B.O.O.C. started out as a faith-based grassroots organization that focused on rebuilding the community by developing and training the human capital within the community. B.O.O.C. became known as a community liaison bent on bringing "hope to the streets". During this time, the B.O.O.C. staff and volunteers worked with young men (predominately African American) by teaching them various construction trades while mentoring and encouraging them to become positive role models for the boys in their lives and to assist the B.O.O.C. team in "building our own community".

In 2001, B.O.O.C. received its 501c.3 non-profit designation from the Internal Revenue Service. This allowed the organization to pursue community and State assistance in carrying out its goals and objectives. B.O.O.C. funded its programs through the sacrificial giving of the members of the Church that was pastored by B.O.O.C.'s founder and Executive Director, Bishop Lance Davis. B.O.O.C. became a program partner of the Chicago Area Project through its program called the FAMILY FORT. This program was designed to build stronger families within the South Suburban region by "Fortifying" the family structure through Saturday morning classes for ALL family members. The staff taught the participants the importance of sharing a healthy meal together as a family as a "building block" for family unity. B.O.O.C. successfully carried out its Family FORT mission by Fortifying the family, thus making them Operable within the community, Restored and thus Transformed (FORT). Shortly thereafter, BOOC recieved it's first grant.

B.O.O.C. has always worked within the frame-work of community collaboratives. B.O.O.C. was instrumental in establishing the "One Church One School" program in the South Suburban community. The OCOS program took the two most resourceful entities within the Urban Community and partnered them by sending mentors and tutors into the Schools and providing a safe haven for students after school. By the year 2000, B.O.O.C. had developed seven partnerships with various schools in the Harvey and Dixmoor communities. Eventually, B.O.O.C. had over 40 volunteers working within the schools and helping teachers in classrooms as well as working as hall monitors. This was done in an effort to show the faith-based and academic communities that by working together, we can affect positive change in the lives of our community's future; its children. Bishop Davis lead the charge to expand the OCOS program throughout the School system of south suburbia. Today, there are more than 30 school/church partnerships established among three south suburban school districts.

In keeping with its legacy of education, health and community advocacy, B.O.O.C. has been consistent in promoting self-sufficiency among community organizations and academic institutions. The B.O.O.C. organization has worked tirelessly to foster meaningful and substantive partnerships among religious institutions, local elected officials, school personnel, and other community stakeholders. In 2003, Bishop Lance Davis became the Senior Pastor and Presiding Prelate of the New Zion Christian Fellowship Church located in downtown Dolton, IL. Bishop Davis and the Board of Directors moved the B.O.O.C. operation to its new home. B.O.O.C. is located at the New Zion Christian Center, 14200 Chicago Road, which is an 86,000 square foot facility located in Dolton, Illinois.

While B.O.O.C. is supported financially through its service contracts and philanthropic giving, depends heavily upon New Zion Christian Fellowship for volunteers and financial support. Bishop Davis continues to garner support for the vision of B.O.O.C. through the many hats he wears within the community which includes but is not limited to, Dolton Police Chaplain, Co-Chairman of the Mayor of Dolton's citizen's board and Dolton School District crisis counselor. Bishop Davis's wife, Dr. Kara Davis, is a medical doctor of internal medicine. Together, they have utilized the B.O.O.C. platform to bring health awareness to the community through large health fairs, community walks, partnering with the Illinois Department of Public Health for H1N1 awareness, and many other community-based events.

B.O.O.C. has led the community-wide charge to fight obesity within the senior and youth populations by utilizing Dr. Kara Davis' book, Spiritual Secrets to Weight Loss (Siloam Press 2008). Dr. Davis has spoken to dozens of local congregations concerning the importance of understanding the detrimental effects of poor health and the keys to defeating preventable disease through weigh management. B.O.O.C. has taken its prominent stance within the community as an opportunity to raise community awareness about the prevalence of obesity and preventable diseases within the African American population. B.O.O.C. has consistently brought to the forefront the need to address and redress much needed PSE changes within the African American community in general, and the African American population within the South Suburban corridor specifically.

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