Founder of Gary youth center rebuilds after devastating fire

A fire has devastated an up-and-coming youth center in Gary, Indiana, leaving its founder’s dream up in smoke.

After Aaliyah Stewart’s two older brothers were killed by gun violence, she took it upon herself to help troubled youth by giving them an outlet to express themselves and feel loved.

The "I Am Them" youth center was under construction last year in a formerly abandoned building. It was reduced to ash a few months ago when the building next door caught fire.


Now, Stewart is scrambling to find another location to host her center. She believes time is running out.

"So many young children in the city of Gary are losing their lives to the epidemic of gun violence and it’s a lack of opportunity. The city of Gary Youth Services Bureau is working to build opportunity, but it takes more than one group and one person to get something done," she said.

Stewart had raised $75,000 to purchase the previous building. Now, she’s looking to rent a space with four rooms that will be divided into programming for different age groups.

More information about the programming and other special events hosted by the organization can be found at