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Gilbert Allen MSW ’17 (left) and his brother, Michael (right). Photo courtesy of  Terrence Antonio James / Chicago Tribune

This story appeared in the Spring 2022 Dominican Magazine.

When Gilbert Allen MSW ’17 was 15 years old, his older brother Michael adopted him to remove him from an untenable home life. The brothers made a pact: if they made it through the chaotic situation they were in, they would write a book and dedicate it to their younger selves.

This year, the brothers fulfilled that pledge with the publication of Brotherly Love, a children’s book about their experience of growing up in poverty with drug-addicted parents and going on to fulfilling careers in social work and education. 

“We wrote Brotherly Love to give a voice to kids who are struggling with adverse situations as we did,” Gilbert says. “It’s all about helping kids to overcome, whether mental-health issues or systemic racism. The goal was to give kids hope  and confidence and help them understand the importance of  loving everyone for who they are.”

Today, Gilbert is a clinical program manager at Garfield Park Hospital, and Michael is the principal of Oakton Elementary in Evanston. The brothers frequently visit area schools and other venues to share their message of hope and healing.