GARY, Ind. - A young Gary woman is turning heartache into action.
Her two brothers were shot to death in the city, in separate incidents.
Now, she’s made it her mission to arm the city’s youth with positive opportunities.
"My inspiration behind it, was one day sitting at home and looking at the city of Gary, also recognizing the story of both my brothers lost, and I decided to build an organization and non-profit where young people could be proud to be a part of something," said 21-year-old Aaliyah Stewart.
Years ago, she founded the "I Am Them" non-profit in memory of her brothers, James and Anthony.
They were both killed before she was old enough to drive.
The foundation has hosted toy drives, mentoring events, a school supply give-away and basketball camp.
To date, she’s raised $75,000 to build a youth center in Gary.
"Starting ‘I Am Them,’ it's a chance for people to come have a safe place to like, make a connection, have a second family. Most people don't get that chance," said 15-year-old Damar Love, who hopes to mentor at the new center.
"For me it's letting every young person in the city of Gary know no matter if you're from Glen Park from Bottom Side or if you're from any part of Gary, you matter, you're important, you mean something and your neighborhood does not define who you are," said Stewart.
Once the center is complete, it will offer financial literacy, computer courses, building trades and cosmetology.
It will also provide youth counseling.
Stewart hopes to complete it by early next year.
For more information, visit www.IAmThem.org.