Aaron Gray was born and raised in North Lawndale, Chicago. A life-long member of Westlawn Gospel Chapel, and a student at Crown Community Academy, Aaron himself was a participant in Westlawn's youth Programming. Aaron and his wife Martice have been married 8 years and have started a business together, Covenant Catering. Aaron is Program Director for Plan 2 Be A Man which develops young men in the neighborhood. Aaron's part for developing and mentoring youth is part of a God given vision for the community. He also enjoys fishing, sushi, and sports of all kinds.
When Martice was about 20 years old, she took on the responsibility of acting as the block club president. Martice served for several years, she was young but very excited and eager to expose our youth to healthy recreation. Martice also wanted to be the vessel that introduced them to more options that will help guide their path.
The opportunity to work directly with her neighbors, the Alderman and other block club leaders was enlightening. It was this experience that opened Martice's eyes to the needs of our children. She has been a proud resident of North Lawndale her entire life. With over 20 years of combined experience in customer service, sales, insurance and program development she is happy to share her gifts with this community, Martice appreciates Westlawn Youth Network and she is committed to helping reach Westlawn Youth Network's goals which will insure that this community…our community has a chance to flourish.
Growing up in the North Lawndale Community and attending Crown Academy, at a very young age E’shia developed a passion for helping and teaching the youth. She started being actively involved in Westlawn Youth Network (WYN) programs at the age of 13 working for Camp Champ Day Camp as a Junior Leader. E’shia also has a passion for writing and reciting spoken word poetry. At the age of 19 she wrote and published her own book of poetry titled “The Unsaid: When There Is Silence My Poetry Speaks”. Through the years of working with WYN her passion for helping youth grew stronger. Being closely affected by the violence in her community, she decided to take action. In the summer of 2011, E’shia organized a peace event which consisted of an Open Mic Night, community clean up, and peace March in the North Lawndale area; she called it “We Are One: The Fight Against Violence “ She Has Hopes Of Making “We Are One” a nonprofit organization in the future. E'shia loves teaching Bible verses to the youth within WYN Programs. She developed a technique called "Poetic Bible Verse Memorization" where she helps the youth memorize Bible verses by turning them into songs and raps. As the youngest member on the WYN Staff, she brings energy and loves to have fun & crack jokes. Her favorite foods are tacos, nachos, & pizza from Home Run Inn & Del Campos.
Jutoria grew up on the South side of Chicago. She always wanted improve the invisible line of division amongst the South and West side of Chicago. Jutoria is a member of the New Philadelphia Church Baptist where she has been the youth choir director and supervisor for over 5 years. This was Jutoria’s introduction to working with children. In 2018 Jutoria graduated with her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Monmouth College, and is excited to use her education, experience, and relationship with God to motivate and inspire youth of all ages. She is responsible for teaching bible stories, and directing the drama and mime dancing component of the Westlawn Youth Network. Jutoria has been involved in WYN since 2014, and is eager to embrace and give new opportunities with the help of the entire WYN team. Jutoria is also invested in helping the youth of the program get into better high schools and colleges. Jutoria enjoys mime dancing, singing, and encouraging all to do their best. Jutoria knows that you cannot just give examples, you have to be the examples.
Founder & Executive Director
In addition to his roles with WYN, Derrick Rollerson Sr. serves as the Executive Pastor of Weslawn Gospel Chapel. He was born in the Chicago North Lawndale community where his parents helped plant Westlawn Gospel Chapel. Pastor Derrick is well acquainted with the needs of the neighborhood. He has been in full time ministry since 1980 after graduating from Illinois Wesleyan University. He first spent 6.5 years full time with Chicagoland Youth For Christ. He then became the full time Youth Pastor of Westlawn Gospel Chapel in 1986 from which Westlawn Youth Network was born. He has also been a part time staff member with CURE ( Chicago Urban Reconciliation Enterprise) since 1987. Married since 1981, Derrick and his wife Eilleen have raised 3 adult children and love serving the Lord together. Derrick is a competitor who loves table tennis, dominoes, and badmitten.
Mark Soderquist serves as one of the Pastors of Westlawn Gospel Chapel. Mark graduated from Taylor University in 1980 with a degree in Business Administration. After working at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Mark spent 5 years with the international mission organization, Operation Mobilization (OM). He served with OM in England, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Pakistan. In 1987, Mark earned a Masters Degree in Intercultural Studies from Wheaton Graduate School. Mark founded Urban & Ethnic Ministries in 1990. This was a new area of ministry within International Teams, an interdenominational mission organization. The uniqueness of this urban ministry was its commitment to working in partnership with ethnic churches. The first church partnership was in Chicago with Westlawn Gospel Chapel and WYN! Eventually, this partnership helped develop teams in Los Angeles, Fresno, Philadelphia, Boston, and Detroit; partnering with African-American, Hispanic, South and Southeast Asian churches. Based on Marks international and urban experience he speaks and consults on issues ranging from race, diversity, justice, poverty, economic development and the role of the church in the context of the city. Mark also serves on a number of Non-Profit boards and a Private Foundation committed to resourcing Minority led urban non-profits. Since 1990, Mark, Jennifer, and their 2 sons, have ministered and lived in the Chicago west side neighborhood of North Lawndale. Jennifer is a singer, composer, and worship leader as well as a College Volleyball coach. Mark & Jennifer have led many short-term sports vision trips to Central America, Eastern Europe, Russia, China, and Hong Kong.