History

Mike and Karen Trout’s Story

In 1992, my wife and I moved into the North Lawndale neighborhood on the west side of Chicago. Many people thought we were foolish to take this step, but we knew that if this WAS God’s direction for our lives, we would be fools not to make this move. So we made a 5-year commitment to a community of African-American neighbors; where we would comprise the “2% other” racial demographic. Now 25 years later, we are more convinced than ever that this decision was one of the BEST decisions we ever made. Karen (my wife) threw herself into the Chicago Public Schools and I took a particular interest in the young men who struggled to navigate the complexities of urban life – often without a father in the home providing a positive example. It didn’t take long before we knew that the greatest gift we had to offer was our marriage and our home. We “adopted” a team of three brothers, ages 9 and 6 and 3 – boys who are now men ages 31, 28, and 25. And it was their journey that largely shaped our lives and our ministry.

YMEN’s humble beginning in our two-bedroom apartment consisted mainly of math tutoring, backyard basketball, and a simple dinner of corndogs or breaded chicken sandwiches. 21 years ago I had little aspiration to be running a robust
youth organization serving 250 kids annually with a staff of 10 and an annual budget of over $800,000. We had obviously identified an area of tremendous need, and there were individuals, churches and family foundations that were willing to provide support to help our young men stay in school and grow up to become community leaders.