The family of Adam Toledo has settled on a site in rural Wisconsin for Adam’s Place, a nonprofit geared to help at-risk youth escape the dangerous allure of inner-city streets that killed Adam.
Adam was 13 when he was shot in the chest and killed by a Chicago police officer on March 29.
Adam’s Place will be built on a 70-acre farm near Potosi, Wisconsin, and was chosen by the Toledo family’s attorney, Joel Hirschhorn, for being a three-and-a-half-hour drive from Chicago and two and a half hours from Milwaukee.
Adam’s mother, Betty Toledo, and her lawyers held a town hall meeting Wednesday in Potosi to address rumors about the project and answer questions. About 150 people attended.
“What I really want is to have Adam back, and I can’t do that,” Toledo said at the meeting. “But we can try to help other families protect their sons from all the temptations that took Adam into the streets the night he was killed. We want Adam’s Place to be a safe place for boys to grow up and learn how to be responsible young men.”
Adam’s Place is modeled after the successful Christian ministry program Boys Farm in Newberry, South Carolina.
“I appreciate the opportunity that Adam’s Place could provide youth to learn and grow in a safe and healthy rural environment away from the lure of the street,” Robert Keeney, chairman of the Grant County Board of Supervisors, said in an email.
Teachers, parents, neighbors to the farm and three Grant County board members were among those attending last week’s community meeting. Many were concerned with the potential of gang violence being brought to their community and the lack of resources available to accommodate incoming students. The Chicago Sun-Times reviewed a recording of the meeting.
“We are not taking kids who are in gangs, because sadly we cannot help them,” Hirschhorn said. “We’re taking those kids who are at the edge, who are being lured by the street. We are hoping to intercept these kids and introduce them to a rural environment before their lives result in the tragedy that the Toledo family has had to endure.”
Boys at Adam’s Place will be between 10 and 14 and enroll in the Potosi School District, attending classes beginning in August 2022. Potosi has a population of about 2,600 people and one elementary school, middle school and high school.
“While we have our own issues and problems just like everywhere else, we’re really excited about what we have going on here in the Potosi area, and will do our due diligence to understand the students that are coming in and make sure that we have any needed resources to meet the needs of those students,” Potosi School Supt. Kurt Cohen said in an interview.
Plans for Adam’s Place include a small welcome center and administrative office, a barn, a 5,000-square-foot, split-level home for up to 10 adolescent boys and an attached apartment for family.
The purchase of the farm on Dutch Holly Road was completed July 2. A zoning application to accommodate a multiple family home and facility space will be submitted by Hirschhorn. He hopes construction can begin in early spring.
“We’re here to put into this community, we’re not here to take out,” Hirschhorn said. “We’re not seeking public funds. This is a $2.5 to $3 million project. We will be employing at least seven people, who will hopefully be from this community.”
So far, $330,000 has been raised.