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The OLU Journey
The vision for Operation Link-Up was birthed in the heart of Titus Lee while a full-time youth pastor on the south side of Chicago, Illinois. Prayer and preparation ensue for the next year to successfully start the program.
The Operation Link-Up after-school program began at Brainerd Field House in Chicago, Illinois on January 9, 1996. Within a few weeks the meeting room was filled with youth from surrounding schools and sessions had to be held in the gymnasium. Titus and Nedra Lee led each after-school session. They were accompanied by a team of dedicated volunteers.
Operation Link-Up moved into its first building in the Marquette Park neighborhood on the southwest side of Chicago.
Operation Link-Up began providing its in-school mentoring program at the largest elementary school in Chicago, Marquette School. Within months the in-school mentoring program expanded to other schools in various regions of the public schools.
After months of appeals and fundraising Operation Link-Up purchased the whole building, it had been leasing for the previous two and a half years. With more space came more youth and full-time staff.
Triumphant City Church was started because of the many families whose children were in OLU seeking a place to worship on Sundays. This ministry began services at the Marquette Park Auditorium. Many of the youth and families of OLU became the core of this church.
Operation Link-Up expanded its Bridging the Gap Youth Rally concept from the 1990’s to Friday night youth rallies and late night/early morning after-parties. These rallies spanned five years. Thousands of youths were blessed by great speakers as well as performing art groups from around the region. Following the rallies, OLU would rent out skating rinks, bowling alleys, indoor/outdoor game centers where hundreds of youths would gather to hang out, fellowship and have fun.
The founder of OLU, Rev. Titus Lee, published the first edition of Teen Life Soulutions which is a 40-week faith-based curriculum for use in church and ministries. It was sold and still is on the internet as well as wherever books are sold.
Operation Link-Up began hosting Make the Connection Training Summits due to the amount of training requests from people and organizations that used Teen Life Solutions Curriculum. The speakers of the first training event were Rev. Titus Lee, Pastor Danny Lopez, and Anthony McPherson.
Operation Link-Up expanded into its second building in Marquette Park neighborhood to adequately reach more teens through its programs.
Operation Link-Up dropped the age requirement of youth from twelve to nine years old due to the high volume of requests from families and schools to serve younger students.
Operation Link-Up hired its first program alumna to work on staff and oversee the day-to-day functions of Operation Link-Up after-school programs and training events.
Fun Fridays became a success at the Operation Link-Up where youth could come to experience positive socialization in a safe space. OLU hosted its first Rising Star Breakfast for Young Urban Males.
OLU Founder, Rev. Titus Lee, began conducting trainings in various cities for youth workers, educators and clergy who were interested in adopting the Operation Link-Up program model in their local areas.
Operation Link-Up Program was introduced at various national housing conferences as a viable teen mentoring program model to use in multi-family communities.
The improved and updated version of Link-Up Summer Youth Camp was hosted on the south side of Chicago. Titus Lee II, the son of Founders Titus and Nedra Lee, led peer-to-peer teaching among the camp attendees.
The youth of Operation Link-Up created and produced their first Public Service Announcement entitled, “Put the Gun Down”. This amazing radio spot calls for peace and non-violence.