By Carole Horan
Market. Definition: A market is a place where two parties, usually buyers and sellers, can gather to facilitate the exchange of goods and services.
Oh but the Brady Market is so much more than that! According to their website “Brady Market is a grocery store with retail, deli/catering, wholesale grocery operations, job training, and wrap-around healing support services. It features a meat department, deli, hot/cold grab and go catering, fresh produce, cold and frozen selections, dry goods and middle store staples.”
The Near Westside has been in need of a market since the closing of long-time (98 years) Nojaim Brothers Supermarket in 2017. Many of the residents are unable to go long distances to a grocery store, so Brady Market is going to be a godsend for them.
I had an opportunity to sit down with Kevin Frank, director of Brady Faith Center. He shared with me how the seed of this vision began. Kevin and his wife, Emily, went to Los Angeles to visit Fr. Gregory Boyle, SJ, founder of Homeboy Industries. This model came together with community effort empowering and raising up people with the help of case managers, mentors, therapists and learning circles. Homeboy Industries realized employment was not enough — they needed more. The trainees were taught how to work at a job, and in turn, how to improve their life. This had an immediate impact and changed lives. Brady Faith began to send five to seven people each year to the Global Homeboy Network Conference in LA. For some of the participants, this was a first experience flying and visiting LA. It was life changing. Thus began the five-year plan.
Brady Market’s June 23 grand opening was a culmination and a beginning. A culmination of the five-year plan and hiring and training of people from the neighborhood; the beginning of a new market for the people of the Near Westside. It was a celebration for the community, and it was well represented. Estimates of 100 to 150 people were in attendance.
Kevin Frank opened the festivities by thanking all the many benefactors, too many to name here. Acknowledgement was given to the public servants who were in attendance: Mayor Ben Walsh, County Executive Ryan McMahon, Council President Helen Hudson, Councilor Pat Hogan, Sen. Rachel May, Assemblywoman Pam Hunter and Fr. Jim Mathews. He went on to explain how and why this market is different. Because this is a non-profit organization, he told us, all the money spent here will stay here in the community.
Randy Wilkins, board chair, spoke next, acknowledging Kevin’s years-long dream. “Everything starts with a dream, then a dream becomes reality.”
Kevin, wearing a T-shirt that read: “Brady Market More Than a Market,” introduced attendees to staff person Danielle Allen. She told us how she now feels at home and can trust others “because in the last two weeks, they have transformed me!” Brady Market is her “safe haven,” she says, noting “you will leave a different person.”
“All I can say is what a blessing this space is!” is how Mayor Walsh began. “What happens on the other side of the freezer area is magic. What Brady Market is doing for their employees will help them through life and enrich them.”
The other half of the building is dedicated to helping provide job training and full support for people who have faced difficulties in the past, or perhaps have struggled with finding employment. The center provides jobs, job training, emotional support and programs like Tai Chi, meditation, yoga and counseling for participants. Again, it’s more than a market.
County Executive McMahon commented that “intentions are aligned. It is easier to make investments if people are working together.” And that is exactly what he sees happening here.
There was a prayer and blessing offered by Obdulia Boston at the close. Participants were encouraged to sample the food, go on a tour, shop and enter a raffle. Lastly, Kevin reminded us, “We cater. The Brady Market caters. Please consider using us, and every dollar will go towards expanding this mission to improve our community!”
To learn more, visit bradymarket.org.
Carole Horan is a Near Westside resident who has lived in the neighborhood for decades