In Memoriam: Kimberly Payton

One of the most remarkable parents I have had the privilege of knowing during my time at Stand is Kimberly Payton. Many folks called her Kimmie, and the passion and depth of caring she brought to her advocacy was infectious.

I am terribly sad to tell you that Kim recently and suddenly passed away. She leaves behind five children and an irreplaceable void here at Stand.

Kim’s personal motto was “each one, teach one, reach one.” She lived by those words every day. No matter what life threw at her, Kim found ways to make her community a better place.

Kim first became involved with Stand in 2014 through our program, Stand University for Parents. She had been with us ever since, putting those advocacy skills to work across Chicago and the state. Kim was there when we fought for fair school funding. And she and her family participated in our early literacy programs, Beat the Odds Reading and Every Child Reads.

Kimmie was a constant at Stand as One retreats, welcoming folks with a warm smile and a contagious laugh. She shared her truth and made the retreats a safe and welcoming space where everyone felt like family. Kim served as chairperson of the Local School Council and vice-chairperson of the Parent Advisory Council, both at O’Keeffe School of Excellence.

One of Kim’s most profound legacies is the lower crime rates of the streets of her community. After a serious altercation at the school, Kim sprung to action to convince Chicago Public Schools that the children of South Shore needed Safe Passage. Teaming with Stand, Kim led a door-to-door campaign, collecting over 100 petition signatures. Kim later told me that she kept ringing doorbells even though she heard shots ringing down the street. You can read more about Kim’s heroic efforts and the impact they made.

I hope you’ll join me in saying a short prayer, sending a positive thought, or sharing a quiet moment with a loved one as a tribute to Kim.

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