Chicago (CNN) - In Roseland, one of Chicago's most dangerous neighborhoods, many residents stay off the streets to protect themselves from rampant gang violence.
But one grandmother opened her door and invited gang members to come inside.
"They say I'm a nut because I let kids into my home who I didn't even know," said Diane Latiker, 54. "But I know (the kids) now. And I'll know the new generation."
Since 2003, Latiker has gotten to know more than 1,500 young people through her nonprofit community program, Kids Off the Block. And she hopes that by providing them with support and a place to go, she is also bringing hope to a community in crisis.
"We are losing a generation to violence," said Latiker, who started the program in her living room.
According to Chicago Public Schools, 140 of its students have been shot since the school year started in September.
"How can a kid get a gun like he can get a pack of gum? It's that crazy," Latiker said.
Latiker, a mother of eight and grandmother to 13, has lived in Roseland for 22 years. She said she was once "young and dumb," dropping out of high school and having seven children by age 25. But she said that by 36, she had turned her life around: She got remarried and earned her GED. She had also given birth to her eighth child, Aisha.
This time, she said, she was determined to do things right.
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