Thursday, December 30, 2010

Jill Bush announces her candidacy for 29th Ward Alderman

 An enthusiastic crowd of supporters came out in a blizzard during a Bears game to hear Jill Bush announce her candidacy for 29th Ward Alderman. Now, that’s support! (Photo by Brad)
Jill Bush announces her candidacy for 29th Ward Alderman saying, “Families are facing foreclosures, violence, health care cuts, and job losses. It’s time to restore hope for a brighter future…. I’m up for the challenge.” (Photo by Brad)



Thursday, December 23, 2010


Rep. La Shawn K. Ford with Columbus Park Food Pantry Director Marjorie Cobbs surrounded by more than 10,000 food items collected by local students for their neighbors in need. (Photo by Brad)Last month, State Representative La Shawn K. Ford (D-8) launched a campaign to collect food for families in distress this holiday season because of the nagging recession and high unemployment rate. He called on students in Austin’s public and parochial schools to take the lead in helping out their neighbors in need. Students from 15 schools, plus MacArthur’s Restaurant and generous people from two local social service agencies answered his call with more than 10,000 food items in less than one month – just in time for the holidays.
    Rep. Ford also made a commitment to help the Columbus Park Food Pantry, whose 79-year old founder and Director, Marjorie Cobbs, needs a van to pick up her weekly allotment of food items from the Metropolitan Chicago Food Depository. She has been renting a van each week but, because she lives on Social Security and depends upon an all-volunteer staff to operate the pantry, this is putting a major strain on her ability to serve the more than 400 families coming to her for help.
    Ford started a campaign to obtain a van for the Columbus Park Food Pantry and raise extra funds to pay the pantry’s assessments charged by the Food Depository for the food it distributes free to families in need. As part of these efforts, Ford added a food drive to help out struggling families.
    Rep. Ford notes that nearly 800,000 Illinois families received food stamp benefits this year, a record high number, up 12% from 2009. In addition, Austin’s unemployment rate is double the national level.
    “With the holiday season in full swing, we are so grateful for the overwhelming response from the community to help give Ms Cobbs the opportunity to deliver food and hope to families in need,” says Rep. Ford.
    “It’s harder to get food to feed the families that come to our pantry, and sometimes it is almost impossible to feed the new families that come to seek help,” explains Ms. Cobbs, who has operated the Columbus Park Food Pantry since 1993. She adds that Oak Park food pantries that are refusing to serve Chicago residents are making her job even more difficult. Ms Cobbs says no one in need is ever turned away from her pantry.
    Persons interested in donating money to assist the Columbus Park Food Pantry obtain a van, or who would like to volunteer at the pantry, should contact Rep. La Shawn K. Ford’s Constituent Service Office at 773/378-5902.
•    Louis Armstrong Elementary School
•    Michele Clark Magnet High School
•    George Rogers Clark Elementary School
•    Horatio May Elementary School
•    Henry H. Nash Elementary School
•    Herbert Spencer Math & Science Academy
•    Catalyst Circle Rock Elementary School
•    John Hay Elementary School
•    George Leland Elementary School
•    Ronald McNair Elementary School
•    Joseph Lovett Elementary School
•    Leslie Lewis Elementary School
•    Christ the King College Prep High School
•    St. Angela Elementary School*
•    St. Catherine-St. Lucy Elementary School
•    MacArthur’s Restaurant
•    Westside Health Authority
•    Circle Family Care Network
*Collected the most food of all schools and organizations.


Dr. Wylie R. Rogers, Jr., surrounded by the biggest influences in his life: proud parents Wylie Rogers & Beverly Rogers and uncle Kenneth Earl. (Photo by Brad)

He is a proud product of Chicago’s Austin community. The son of a Chicago Police Officer and Cook County Sheriff’s Deputy, Wylie Rogers, Jr., says he was allowed to follow his interests and had the opportunity to explore different paths. His road to medicine was a long and winding one.
    Dr. Rogers attended Our Lady Help of Christians Elementary School, graduated from St. Angela School in 1986, and earned his high school diploma from prestigious St. Ignatius College Prep in 1990. He worked at Rush Hospital in food service during high school. But, he never really thought he would go into medicine as a profession.

Dr. Wylie R. Rogers, Jr., credits his parents, St. Angela School, and his childhood in Chicago’s Austin community with guiding him into a successful and rewarding medical career and adult life. (Photo by Brad)He attended the University of Illinois at Urbana, majoring in English, with a Chemistry minor. He had the chance to participate in a special program called Minority Organization for Pre-health Services (MOPS). Rogers then entered a program of Med-prep for non-science majors pursuing a medical career at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. Each step is drawing him closer and closer to a medical career, but he says he still did not fully realize it and he certainly wasn’t narrowing his focus on a specialty. He did learn, however, that some medical schools are seeking students with non-science majors because they often have better communication skills and greater abilities to relate to patients. They also have a broader world view.
    After graduation, Rogers spent the summer preparing to take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT). He entered medical school in Philadelphia in 1997 and graduated in 2001, serving his internship at Lutheran General Hospital in Chicago from 2001 to 2002.
    Dr. Rogers then went to The George Washington University Hospital in Washington, D.C., for an internship in Anesthesiology that lasted until 2005. He chose his specialty because of a supervising doctor who impressed him and influenced his decision.
    Currently, Dr. Rogers is in private practice and works primarily at GWU Surgicenter. He says he is exploring opportunities for going into the business and management side of medicine.
    When asked what advice he has for students, the 38-year-old physician urges young people to develop a love for learning and going to school. He says learning didn’t come easy for him. He says he studied 12 to 14 hours a day. So, he advises, explore all options. Be sure you enjoy what you are doing. Listen to other people’s suggestions, but don’t get pushed into anything. Make your own decisions at your own speed after gathering all the information you need.
    Looking back, Dr. Rogers says family, schools, and his Austin roots guided him into making all the right decisions.

Mayoral candidate Carol Moseley Braun Hosts Breakfast

James Williams of THE VOICE Newspapers discusses issues of the Chicago mayoral campaign with Carol Moseley Braun. (Photo by Walter Tidwell)
Chicago mayoral candidate Carol Moseley Braun addresses city issues at a media breakfast. (Photo by Walter Tidwell)

Austin Senior Leadership

Instructor Zakiyyah Wahid and students of the Austin Senior Leadership Class gather at the Malcolm X College West Side Learning Center, 4624 West Madison Street, to present the school with the gift of a portrait of Malcolm X. Ms Wahid says she prefers the photograph because Malcolm appears more studious and compassionate and less angry than in most pictures of him. For information about the class, call 773/378-4319. (Photo by Brad)


Commander Penelope Trahanas of the 11th Police District is asking for the public’s help in solving a homicide that occurred December 19 in the 900 block of North Harding Avenue. John Washington was murdered. Anyone with information is asked to call Area 4 Detective Division at 312/746-8252 and refer to RD#HS668190.

Friday, December 17, 2010



Mother Mary Ann Lee, a longtime member of Metropolitan Baptist Church on Chicago’s West Side, celebrated her 105th birthday on October 24.

Mary Ann Lee has seen and experienced the most dramatic changes the world has ever known. On October 24, Mother Lee reached the milestone of 105 years. Relatives and friends threw a birthday party for her in the nursing home in which she now resides.
    Despite her advanced age, she is still mentally sharp and enjoys receiving guests.
    She was born in LaGrange, Georgia, in 1905, was educated in the South and was employed as a domestic worker. She was married to Robert Lee Broom and they had a son, who is now deceased. Mother Lee came to Chicago in 1940 and then to Cincinnati. Returning to Chicago, she became an active member of Metropolitan Baptist Church on the West Side.
    Mother Lee has five grandchildren, eleven great-grandchildren, and four great-great-grandchildren.
Mother Lee celebrating her 105th birthday with several generations of her family.

Monday, December 13, 2010


Marshall High School athletes & coaches surround Mayor Daley, Alderman Smith, and Senator Hendon as their new $10 million campus park is dedicated.

The new $10 million campus park adjoining John Marshall Metro High School at 3250 West Adams Street, was recently dedicated by Mayor Richard M. Daley, Alderman Ed Smith, and Senator Rickey Hendon. It includes a combination soccer and football field, a softball diamond, a running track, a landscaped garden with benches, and visitor parking.
    Marshall students like the new campus park because it permits their athletic teams to practice at the school instead of traveling to Garfield Park. The campus park project was a center of controversy during its construction, with West Side activists and community organizations staging protests over failure of the general contractor to select local minority subcontractors or hire workers from the community.
    However, the City says local businesses performed more than 31% of the work on the project – well over the 25% required by the contract. In addition, 64% of the skilled trade journeymen on the project were minorities, as were all of the apprentices and laborers. Over 12% of the total labor hours went to community hires – far exceeding the 7.5% required by the contract.


William Dougherty & Greg Bella of the Fraternal Order of Police present Distinguished Service Awards to Officers Francisco Iza, Mark DeBose & Jason Bala for apprehending a dangerous armed robber in East Garfield Park.
Chicago Police Officers Francisco Iza, Mark DeBose, and Jason Bala observed a vehicle run a red light at Washington & Kedzie during routine patrol and gave chase east on Warren Boulevard, south on Albany Avenue, and through an alley at 3018 West Madison Street. The car stopped suddenly and two subjects fled southbound on foot. Officers Iza and DeBose pursued the offenders, at which time Officer Bala alerted them that one man had a gun. Officer Iza focused on the offender, who was grabbing at his waistband. Running into a vacant lot, the offender turned toward Officers Iza and DeBose with a handgun and fired in their direction. Officer Iza returned fire, striking the offender, who fell to the ground and dropped the weapon. He was taken into custody and the gun was recovered. Further investigation revealed the offender had just robbed two individuals at gunpoint at 3200 West Maypole.
    The Fraternal Order of Police presented Distinguished Service Awards to the officers in recognition of their bravery and dedication to the citizens of Chicago in taking a dangerous offender and his weapon off the streets.


Marcell L. Kellum, 37, of the 700 block of N. Laramie Ave., is in custody for committing an armed robbery while impersonating a police officer.Marcell L. Kellum, 37, of the 700 block of North Laramie Avenue, was arrested and charged with two felony counts of Aggravated Robbery, one felony count of Aggravated False Personation of a Police Officer, and one Issuance of Warrant count.
    On November 24 at approximately 10:25 AM, Kellum entered a small retail food store on the West Side where he encountered two male employees standing behind the counter. He announced he was a police officer and handcuffed one of the men, subsequently robbing him of cash and personal items. Next, the offender turned his attention to the other male employee, ordering him to open the store’s cash register. After the victim complied, Kellum grabbed an undetermined amount of currency and fled the store. The victims called the police.
    Austin District officers responded to the scene and spied Kellum walking on the street. The offender matched the description provided by the store employees and so the officers conducted a street stop. After further investigation, Kellum was positively identified by the two victims. Kellum was placed into custody, a gun was seized, and the stolen proceeds were recovered.

Thanksgiving at United Liberty M.B. Church

Cooks in the Kitchen. Members of the congregation of United Liberty M.B. Church, 2108 S. Pulaski Rd., leave their own kitchens to cook Thanksgiving feasts for less fortunate members of their church’s community. (Photo by Brad)                

 Isaac Hester keeps the children occupied and out of the way while the adults prepare Thanksgiving dinners for community residents at United Liberty M.B. Church. (Photo by Brad)
 Rev. Floyd Banks, Jr., Pastor of United Liberty M.B. Church, 2108 S. Pulaski Rd., with his congregation serving Thanksgiving Dinners to neighbors in need. Kenneth Clair was Chairman of the Community Feeding. (Photo by Brad)

Friday, December 10, 2010

St. Angela students support Rep. Ford’s food drive

No More Hunger

No more hunger, No more pain,
We can help it, make a change.
A world without hunger,
How can it be?
Well, I can tell you, donate with me.
Some may not know or may not care,
No matter what reason, it is still there.
Just come and donate, give what you can.
Spread the word to others,
They’ll understand.
I think of that woman just
down the street,
Caring for three children who just want to eat.
Or maybe that man who is sick with hunger.
If he had just one meal, he would be starving no longer.
When you have no money,
you may not give,
But when you do have it,
think of how others live.
No need to go to Haiti or way out of town,
Hungry people are everywhere,
Just look around.
Now do your part and place it in
your heart,
Don’t look the other way,
Join the fight today.

By Cierra Robinson
8th Grade
St. Angela School
1st Place Winner in the Catholic Charities
World Hunger Poetry Contest
December 2010

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


wn as the Oscar for Teachers. Nominations for the annual award are neither solicited nor accepted by the sponsoring Milken Family Foundation. The names of each year’s recipients are kept secret – even from the winners – until the announcements are made in each teacher’s school.
This year, only 55 teachers nationwide are being named Milken National Educators, and only one in the state of Illinois.
That outstanding instructor is Dexter Chaney, a 3rd grade teacher at Martin A. Ryerson Elementary School, 646 North Lawndale Avenue in West Garfield Park.
The announcement was made November 29 in the school auditorium to an assembly of students and his teaching colleagues. In recognition of the prestige of the award, Dr. Christopher A. Koch, Illinois State Superintendent of Education, was on hand, as were Chicago Board of Education President Mary Richardson-Lowry, and 27th Ward Alderman Walter Burnett.
After a dramatic build-up by Dr. Jane Foley, Senior Vice President of the Milken Family Foundation, the Ryerson auditorium erupted into a roar of approval when the name of Dexter Chaney, the quiet, mild-mannered transplanted Texan, was announced. Chaney came forward from his seat with his class and wiped tears from his eyes as he tried to compose himself to receive the award and speak to the assembly.
Chaney receives a cash award of $25,000 – about which he commented quietly, “Well, now I can buy some pencils.”
“Mr. Chaney’s wealth of knowledge on differentiated instruction and his expertise in using data to improve teaching and student learning has been invaluable to both students and his colleagues at Ryerson,” said Dr. Christopher A Koch, State Superintendent of Education. “The Milken Family Foundation’s ability to seek out and recognize teachers of Mr. Chaney’s high caliber is very much appreciated. This award is an excellent opportunity to showcase a talented teacher who is striving to make a difference in students’ lives.”
According to the Milken Foundation, Chaney uses the manners he was taught as a child in Texas to model respect and engage his colleagues, students’ families, and members of the community. He firmly believes that parental and community involvement is directly linked to successful learning.
Chaney is known for his pursuit of professional development activities and opportunities that help good teachers become better teachers, according to the Foundation. His dedication to continuously seeking methods that will best help students succeed has earned him the reputation of an outstanding mentor who has earned high levels of respect from colleagues, administrators, students, and families.
“He serves as a role model to not only the children in his classroom, but to every child in the school,” says Lorenzo Russell, his Principal. “Dexter is highly visible to every student because of his tireless efforts, his work in the community, and his participation in after-school and extracurricular activities. Our students know they can count on him.”
A teacher for six years, Chaney is known for his dedication to helping students succeed. Although school doesn’t officially begin until 9:00 AM, Chaney is always at Ryerson by 7:30 AM to let children in any grade come to his classroom. Chaney provides tutoring if needed but, more often, he provides an ear and a safe environment for the students of Ryerson.
Dexter Chaney superbly represents the rebirth of Martin A. Ryerson School under the creative leadership of Principal Lorenzo Russell. In his three years at the helm, Russell has actively recruited male teachers, introduced single-gender classes to promote student focus on academics, tied athletics directly to scholastic performance, raised test scores from 40% to over 76% of students performing at state norms, and brought Ryerson from one of Chicago’s worst schools for attendance to one of its best.


Monday, December 6, 2010


Jamiah On Fire & The Red Machine, winners of the 2010 Chicago Blues Challenge and a trip to Memphis, comprises Jamiah, 15, on guitar & lead vocals; Jalon, 11, on drums; and Kenyonte, 9, on bass.A blues trio called Jamiah On Fire & The Red Machine, comprising guitarist and lead vocalist Jamiah, 15; Jalon, 11, on drums; and Kenyonte, 9, on bass, won the 2010 Chicago Blues Challenge at Heartland Café on Chicago’s North Side. They opened a November 7 showcase of winning adult bands at Buddy Guy’s Legends.
    Jamiah On Fire & The Red Machine won a trip to Memphis, Tennessee, where they will perform in a Youth Showcase with bands from across the nation at the International Blues Challenge on February 3 & 4. The competition is sponsored by the Windy City Blues Society. All three band members of Jamiah On Fire & The Red Machine are residents of Calumet City and play numerous engagements throughout the year. For booking information, call 312/810-2657.


Glenn Grogan, Graphic Design intern from the Paul Simon Job Corps Center, works on ad creation & page layout at THE VOICE Newspapers with Senior Designer Jeff Potter. (Photo by Brad)
Glenn Grogan came to the Paul Simon Job Corps Center on Chicago’s West Side 14 months ago from his home in Indianapolis, Indiana. He was 17 years old and high school wasn’t working out for him. He was falling behind and cutting classes, so his mother encouraged him to enroll in the Job Corps for employment training.
    Glenn says he was very skeptical at first about going to the Job Corps because he thought it was going to be like a boot camp. But, he decided to pursue training in Graphic Design and was, therefore, sent to Chicago because the Paul Simon Center is the only Job Corps campus in the country offering training in that career field.
    “I earned my GED at the Paul Simon Center and received my Adobe Certified Associate credentials (ACA) by completing the course,” Glenn explains.
    As a requirement for completing his course, Glenn needed to serve an internship utilizing the skills he had learned. He chose THE VOICE Newspapers, where he is working under the supervision of Senior Graphic Designer Jeff Potter in ad trafficking, ad design, photo retouching & processing, and page layout.
    “I am being introduced to a lot of new programs in a real life work setting, helping publish a major weekly community newspaper,” says Glenn. “I see that it really takes a team to produce each issue of the newspaper and everyone’s job is important.”
    He says Jeff Potter is giving him good advice on potential career paths in Graphic Design. Glenn plans to attend college when he leaves the Job Corps and continue studying Graphic Design.

Friday, November 19, 2010


 Stars of Mindless Behavior: (from left) Ray Ray, Roc Royal, Prodigy & Princeton. (Photo by Andrew Griffin)

Mindless Behavior is a dynamic new group of charming and magnetic young men armed with limitless talent, drive, energy, and a passion for music and performing. Barely into their teens, Mindless Behavior’s style of pop, hip-hop, and R & B has the potential for transforming the musical landscape.
    The group is comprised of three spirited 15-year-old boys: Roc Royal, Princeton, and Prodigy, and a 14-year-old – Ray Ray. They are in the process of wrapping up production of their debut album - #1 Girl. It is guaranteed to establish Mindless Behavior as the New Boys In Town! Their new single, My Girl, is climbing the charts as you read this.
    When asked how the four met, Princeton told me their managers, Keisha Gamble and Walter Millsap, held an audition two years ago where he and Roc Royal met. A couple of months later, their choreographer, Dave Scott, found Prodigy on You Tube. Ray Ray came to the studio and auditioned two weeks later.
    “Walter took us to meet Vincent Herbert and Jimmy Lovine and we signed with Streamline/InterScope Records,” Princeton relates. Jimmy Lovine discovered Lady Gaga and produces her music.
    The boys admit they “have a crush on a certain celebrity girl.” But, first things first. “We have to keep our careers going, especially at this early point in the game. We have to do our schoolwork. And it’s hard to keep up with our friends and stuff. We have girls we call, but we don’t really date.” (The boys are home schooled.)
    While in Chicago, the group tried to do some shopping at River Oak Mall, but girls spotted them and came running by the hundreds, chasing them. The guys loved it!
    They stopped in at Horizons for Youth, a school at 703 West Monroe Street, meeting and performing for excited students.
    The members of Mindless Behavior have much in common. They love to sing and dance, and they were all influenced by Michael Jackson. In describing them, I would say they are charming, playful, funny, sensitive, and creative.
Mindless Behavior delivers a high-energy performance – singing, rapping, and dancing with thrilling stage presence. When they step onstage, teen girls especially go wild. Their forthcoming album, #1 Girl, contains songs about teen love, introspective ballads, and some hot up-tempo party songs for dancing.
    Princeton says their single, My Girl, is about how much the girls love them – “She texts us all the time – send us a 1-4-3.”
    Since the breakup of B2K, the music industry has been on a search for the next big Boy Group. The search is over – meet Mindless Behavior!
 Members of Mindless Behavior meet students of Horizons for Youth. (Photo by Andrew Griffin)
Mindless Behavior sings and dances for students of Horizons for Youth. (Photo by Andrew Griffin)


THE VOICE can get your business card in the hands of 90,000 potential customers 



Bill & Tammika Glass were married July 31 in a ceremony at Rock of Ages Baptist Church in Maywood. The couple met at a hot dog stand in Austin and love bloomed. Bill is a Staff Assistant to Alderman Deborah Graham and Tammika is a Finance Consultant at DeVry Institute. Both are West Siders.
Ed McElroy interviews Askia Abdullah, Assistant to Cook County Recorder of Deeds Eugene Moore, on his public affairs TV program, “The Ed McElroy Show” on CAN-TV/Channel 19 Tuesday, November 23 at 8:00 PM. They will discuss programs of the Recorder of Deeds Office to protect homeowners.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Al Raby students volunteer to work in the Fulton Community Garden.   

The City of Chicago renames the categories and changes the rules, but Sam and Angela Taylor keep winning the City of Chicago Garden Contest, part of Mayor Daley’s Landscape Awards program. This year, the Taylors won 3rd Place in the Citywide Vegetable Garden category. They were presented their award at a ceremony November 6 at the Hyatt Regency.
    Sam and Angela have been tending their garden at 4427 West Fulton for seven years. The combination flower and vegetable garden comprises two city lots. Their garden has truly become a community project as the Taylors invite neighbors, local children, students from nearby Al Raby High School and the Neighborhood Youth Garden Corps of East Garfield Park to tend plots in the garden.
    The Taylors are serving as community consultants to the Garfield Park Conservatory, providing advice and assistance to block clubs and residents seeking to start community gardens. The Taylors are also working with an agency opening a restaurant with a training component for unemployed persons wanting to enter the culinary industry to learn and earn at the same time. Sam and Angela are helping establish a garden adjacent to the restaurant that will provide homegrown crops for the menu.

 The Neighborhood Youth Garden Corps of East Garfield Park at work in the Fulton Community Garden.
 Sam & Angela Taylor are surprised with a cake by friends & well-wishers at the Fulton Garden.
 Angela & friends look at cabbage plants.
Angela Taylor happily provides tips to visitors at her Fulton Community Garden.
 Mike Tomas of the Garfield Park Conservatory and Ald. Ed Smith pay a visit to the Taylors’ Fulton Street Community Garden.
 Sam & Angela Taylor enjoy giving away much of their community garden’s bumper crop to neighbors. They have also taken up canning vegetables for use year-round.
A junior gardener enjoys the floral beauty of the Community Garden at 4427 W. Fulton.

Building Organizations That Work:

Ten Basic Steps to Creating A Nonprofit Organization
by Valerie F. Leonard
Community Development Consultant

1.    Recruit Board of Directors
2.    Develop By-Laws
3.    Prepare Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation
4.    Secure Tax Identification Number
5.    File With IDES (If you plan to hire employees)
6.    File Articles of Incorporation with Secretary of State's Office
7.    File Articles with Recorder of Deeds
8.    File Application for Federal Income Tax Exemption
9.    File With Attorney General's Office
10.    File for State Sales Tax Exemption

Valerie F. Leonard is a Chicago-based community development consultant, with a mission to strengthen the capacity of organizations to make a positive impact on the communities they serve through technical assistance, specialized workshops, resource and organizational development and project management. For further information, you may call Ms. Leonard at 773-521-3137, visit or e-mail her at


    Thomas Simmons, West Side community activist, political strategist, and career service employee for the City of Chicago, has joined a large and growing field of candidates running for alderman of the 29th ward. Simmons is a native Chicagoan, raised on the West Side, the fourth of six children.
    He began work with the city as a Case Manager/Family Service Specialist, providing emergency aid to the elderly and homeless. He rose to the level of Deputy Commissioner of General Services before retiring after a 33-year career.
    Simmons is a product of the Chicago Public Schools, having graduated from John Marshall High School. He earned an Associate Degree from Robert Morris College and received a B.A. Degree from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale.
    Simmons founded Citizens For A Better Westside and serves as its Chairman. He is Vice President of Concern Organization Who Cares, is a member of the Amundsen Park Advisory Council, and participates in CAPS Beat 2513.
    According to Simmons, the paramount issues in the 29th ward are reducing the incidences of crime, improving the quality of schools, and positioning the ward for economic development and positive growth.
    Simmons and his organizations host a popular Back-To-School Gospel Fest each year providing over 700 local students with school supplies. He presents an annual Thanksgiving Harvest Feast for more than 400 neighborhood residents. Thomas also holds an annual Expungement Information Summit, Mortgage Information Fairs, and other community service events.
    Thomas Simmons declares that his philosophy is “Hands Up, Hands Under, and Hands On.” Hands Up – Uplifting all citizens; Hands Under – Supporting all citizens; and Hands On – Working to make a difference for all citizens.
    Thomas Simmons is seeking volunteers for his campaign. Persons may visit his headquarters at 5900 West North Avenue, call 773/745-8380, or e-mail him at His website is


Mary Johnson Volpe lived all her life and raised her children in the same house on Kamerling Avenue in Austin. She was a proud and outspoken advocate for Chicago’s far West Side and she worked tirelessly to ensure that its residents received the respect and the quality of services they deserved. This was especially true as the racial composition of her community changed and city services deteriorated.
Mary Volpe died October 5 of a heart attack in her Austin home. She was 78 years old.
Volpe was a community activist with absolutely no patience for injustice, government corruption, ineffectual politicians, or dirty cops. Trained by Sol Aulinsky, she proudly wore the title “organizer.” She was an active member of Organization for a Better Austin and went on to lead Northeast Austin Organization from 1972 until 2001 from her office in the rectory of St. Peter Canisius Catholic Church on North Avenue. She was on the front lines of the legislative battles against block busting, real estate and insurance redlining, and was prominent in the effort creating the Neighborhood Reinvestment Act requiring banks to write mortgages and make loans in the communities they serve.
Volpe trained residents to create block clubs, fought prostitution, street gangs, and drug dealing. She worked to carve out the 25th police district and served on its Steering Committee for a quarter century. She fought to keep St. Anne’s Hospital open and North Avenue strip joints and liquor stores closed.
She helped launch the city’s Beat Rep and CAPS programs, served for years on the city’s Community Development Block Grant board and as an active member of IVI-IPO. Volpe worked to improve Austin’s schools, fought the proliferation of pay telephones used by drug dealers, and established programs to help ex-offenders obtain education and jobs. Every politician knew her and many feared her when she showed up at their doors with her jaw set for confrontation.
Mary Volpe helped launch CEDA and LI-HEAP. She worked for expanded library services, fought police corruption in the 15th and 25th districts, while demanding adequate police patrols in neighborhoods of Northeast Austin. She is responsible for many community improvements credited to others who did far less.
Through it all, Mary Volpe was a historian of West Side life and ultimately became an important part of West Side history.
“Mary Volpe was a giant,” declares Brad Cummings, Associate Editor of THE VOICE Newspapers. “She was a strong and loyal friend personally and to her community. She helped found THE AUSTIN VOICE Newspaper and actively crusaded for everything that was good for Austin. There are far too few people like her and she will be greatly missed.”
Volpe has three children: Reverend Gina Volpe, an Episcopal priest; a son Peter; and daughter Michelle Bardachowski.

How to Get a Temporary Job Over the Holidays Tom Joyce, Better Business Bureau Serving Chicago & Northern Illinois

Chicago, IL November 9, 2010 - Job hunters may get an early present this year as retailers look to increase the number of hires during the holiday season. Competition for these jobs will likely be fierce, and the Better Business Bureau recommends applying early and taking steps to put your best foot forward.
“The holiday season will create a much welcome bump in the number of job openings, particularly in the retail and restaurant industry,” said Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “While the jobs are usually temporary, this is great news for struggling families and people who have had problems finding work.”
The BBB offers the following tips for job hunters this holiday season:
Start the job search
earlier rather than later.
The key to landing a seasonal job is to start searching early. Retail, shipping, restaurants and catering companies are common sources of seasonal employment. Now is the time for job hunters to determine which job suits them best, identify companies they’d like to work for and then begin submitting applications and resumes. 
Research the companies to which you submit job applications.
Always check out the company’s BBB Business Review for free at to see if the company has received a passing grade from the BBB. Also never give your credit card or checking account information to an individual or business that promises employment. Legitimate employers never charge fees to prospective employees.  
Work where you shop.
Try to identify seasonal employment with businesses you actually shop at or frequent. You will already be familiar with the company and its products and, secondly, discounts available for employees may mean significant savings when shopping for Christmas gifts.
Put your best foot forward.
Even if you are just picking up an application at stores in the mall, dress your best and be prepared for an interview. This includes being familiar with the company’s brand and its products. Retail job hunters in particular need to focus on impressing potential employers with their customer service skills-which is a must when dealing with stressed-out shoppers, long check-out lines and day-after-Christmas returns.  
Be flexible.

Full-time employees usually have first dibs on the preferred hours and shifts, so, as a seasonal employee, expect to work long, sometimes inconvenient hours including working on Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve. If this is a second job in addition to your day job, be upfront and clear with your new employer about your available hours.

For more holiday tips, visit

Tom Joyce 312.245.2643;


The Taylor family and friends recently hosted Stepping Out In Pink, a gala celebration raising funds promoting breast cancer awareness and saluting survivors. Angela and Sam Taylor are probably best known for their award-winning gardens on Fulton Street in West Garfield Park, but they are individuals of boundless energy and tremendous commitment to building a healthy community. This brought them to join the crusade against breast cancer and the drive to get every woman at risk tested.
Six survivors participated in a Pin-A-Sister ceremony at the gala, affixing pink ribbons to women attending the event and urging them to get tested for breast cancer. Funds raised from Stepping Out In Pink were contributed to the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

Friday, November 5, 2010



 Bill Baker, Senior Pilot for Corporate Balloons, Ltd., discusses the operation and flight of hot air balloons with fascinated Ella Flagg Young students. (Photo by Brad)
 In the school parking lot, startled students jump back as a plume of flame belches from the burner unit that fills the balloon with hot air to fly. (Photo by Brad)
 Ella Flagg Young students get an exciting science lesson about hot air balloon flight, thanks to RE/MAX Realty. (Photo by Brad)
Ella Flagg Young Principal Crystal Bell, with Principal-for-a-Day Wendy Thomas-Williams of Northeastern Illinois University Teachers Center, and students explore the inside of a giant RE/MAX hot air balloon in the school gym. (Photo by Brad)


 Chicago Dept. of Community Development Deputy Commissioner Ellen Sahli announces at a LaFollette Park press conference in Austin that, because of the summer floods and the recession, the City is opening the EHAP application process Oct. 27 for low-income households to obtain furnace repairs & replacement. For eligibility requirements and to file applications, call 3-1-1. (Photo by Brad)
Ald. Emma Mitts praises the City for opening the EHAP application process early for households needing repair or replacement of furnace units. (Photo by Brad)

With cold weather fast approaching and an expected increased demand after the summer floods, the Chicago Department of Community Development announced in Austin that it is opening the furnace application process early for the Emergency Housing Assistance Program, EHAP.
    EHAP provides grants to repair or replace heating systems when repair costs exceed replacement costs. Owners of 1-4 unit buildings in Chicago must live in the property and have no other means to pay for repairs. Household income cannot exceed 50% of area median income, which means that maximum yearly income for a family of four is $37,550.
    In addition to the flood damage, Deputy Commissioner Ellen Sahli said, “Due to the lingering effects of the recession, we understand that low-income families are struggling to make ends meet. By opening the program early, we are giving low-income families an early start on planning for home heating this winter.” Sahli urges qualified homeowners to apply for assistance as early as possible.
    Alderman Emma Mitts praised the City’s action and also urged homeowners to test their heating systems if they experienced flooding that affected their furnaces. She reminds residents that the FEMA Flood Disaster Assistance Center at 4905 West North Avenue remains open to take claims until November 17. Damage to furnaces can be included in applications for FEMA assistance.
    EHAP applications are accepted by the City from October 27 to March 31, or until funds are exhausted. In 2009, the program assisted over 258 units with furnaces and boilers.
    To file an application for furnace repair or replacement, call 3-1-1.


Brandon Harris, 11, a talented member of the Pine Avenue Performing Arts Center, sings a solo rendition of “His Eye Is On The Sparrow” during Youth Sunday at Pine Avenue United Church. (Photo by Brad)

Brandon Harris, 11, is the fourth of five children and a musical star of the not-too-distant-future. He is a member of the Pine Avenue Performing Arts Center, 1015 North Pine Avenue and a 6th grader at A.N. Pritzker School, where he is in the gifted class. He performs in school plays and talent shows.
    As a member of One Lord One Faith M.B. Church, 312 North Lavergne, Brandon is active in ministry under the guidance of Reverend Joseph Kelley, Sr. He sings in the church choir and carries the Word wherever he is invited to minister. He is also a member of the G-Phi-G (Glorify God) step team at church.
    Brandon loves to act, sing, write songs, and produce music. In his spare time, he likes to play basketball. As an aspiring actor and musical artist, Brandon’s dream is to write, produce, and record his own album someday soon.

Friday, October 29, 2010


An architect’s rendering of a Park Douglas rental building being constructed in North Lawndale. Rents will range from $675 to $1,075.
 Alderman Ed Smith presided over the October 26 groundbreaking for Park Douglas, an innovative 137-unit mixed-income rental housing development at Roosevelt Road & Talman Avenue in North Lawndale. The $44 million initiative is a partnership of the City of Chicago, Chicago Housing Authority, Mount Sinai Hospital, and B-M Ogden LLC, developers.
    Park Douglas will provide attractive, modern apartments for households with a range of incomes. Sixty units will be public housing and will serve as replacement units for the demolished Lawndale Gardens complex. Another 49 units will be funded with Low Income Housing Tax Credits and will be targeted to low- and moderate-income households, while the remaining 28 units will be market rate with no income restrictions. The first move-ins are expected in July 2011.
    The development is being built on vacant land with more than $10 million in highly competitive stimulus funds provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The project will also bring over 200 construction jobs and five permanent management positions to the community.
    Park Douglas will provide 1-, 2-, 3-, and 4-bedroom apartments with appliances, including in-unit washers and dryers. Residents will also have access to a new community center, meeting space with kitchen, and a computer lab. The structures incorporate green and sustainable features.
The 137 rental units are the first phase of a comprehensive redevelopment program that will ultimately include over 300 units of rental and for-sale housing in 19 buildings, as well as the new Mount Sinai Hospital, which is moving to the north side of Ogden Avenue.
    Alan H. Channing, President & CEO of Sinai Health System stated, “Sinai Health System’s Board of Directors and family of caregivers conceived of the community development and health care project. The hospital’s social service arm, Sinai Community Institute, will also provide residents with a variety of social services, including health care consultation, job training, and family counseling. The City of Chicago donated land and provided a Low Income Housing Tax Credit allocation, as well as HOME funds.
Ald. Ed Smith, executives of Sinai Health System, Chicago Housing Authority, HUD, and Brinshore Dev., break ground for the 137-unit Park Douglas rental housing complex in North Lawndale. (Photo by Isaac Jones) 

Howe School Comes Down

Like giant transformer vultures, cranes are eating away at the steel frame of the “new building” at Julia Ward Howe School, 720 N. Lorel Ave. The structure is being torn down to make way for sports fields, a running track, and playground space for students. (Photo by Brad)
Then, the huge mechanical monsters push the building’s skeleton over. (Photo by Brad)

The school building is gone – just a memory in the minds of Howe students who attended class in it. (Photo by Brad)



1.    If you suffered flood damage and losses not covered by home insurance, come to the FEMA Disaster Recovery Center at 4905 West North Avenue (the former Old Navy store in the Harold Washington Plaza Shopping Center); or
2.    Call the toll-free Disaster Hotline at 1-800-621-3362, 7:00 AM-10:00 PM daily;
3.    If you filed an application prior to August 19th, you did not file with FEMA, so you must, come to the Center or call the Hotline at 1-800-621-3362 and file an application BEFORE NOVEMBER 17;
4.    File a SBA Disaster Loan application at the Center or by calling 1-800-659-2955 – EVEN IF YOU DO NOT WANT A LOAN OR DON’T THINK YOU QUALIFY. IT COULD GET YOU MORE AID FROM FEMA!
5.    Don’t forget to check your furnace to see if it still works – BEFORE THE WEATHER TURNS COLD! If it doesn’t work because of flood damage, report it to FEMA and get it replaced NOW!
6.    If you received a Rejection Letter from FEMA, bring it to the Disaster Recovery Center. Your application may need a signature or may be missing required information. You may also want to appeal a claim rejection decision. The staff at the Center can help you.
7.    Your home may be harboring potentially toxic mold. Meet with specialists at the Disaster Recovery Center to learn how to remove mold and sanitize your home. This service is free.


 Rep. LaShawn K. Ford kicks off a fund-raising drive with his check. The goal is buying a van for the Columbus Park Food Pantry to use for picking up its weekly allotment of food, to pay for gas, and to pay the Greater Chicago Food Depository for the food the Pantry distributes to needy Austin families. (Photo by Brad)
The Columbus Park Food Pantry serves nearly 2,300 people in need each month, providing basic food to families struggling through the economic recession. Each Friday morning, from 8:30 to 11:00 AM, a steady line of people carrying empty boxes moves through the basement of the Columbus Park Refectory, 5710 West Jackson Boulevard, to receive enough food to tide their families over. No one in need is ever turned away.
The Pantry has been a 17-year labor of love for its founder, Marjorie Cobbs, and her crew of dedicated volunteers. No one working in the Pantry has ever earned a dime for their service to others. In June, Marjorie Cobbs received the Wal-Mart Community- Builders Award for Community Service from THE VOICE Newspapers.
Although the Greater Chicago Food Depository tells everyone the food it provides needy Chicagoans is free, the fact is that the Columbus Park Food Pantry must pay 7-cents a pound for the food it obtains from the Depository to distribute to hungry client families. Marj Cobbs has held gospel fests over the years to raise the money to pay the Depository. However, illness, a near-fatal car accident, and deaths in her family prevented her from hosting her fund-raiser this year.
Undeterred, Marj, who is nearly 80 years old, dips into her Social Security to keep the Pantry running. This also means renting a U-Haul van each week to pick up the food from the Depository.
“Well,” she asks, “what can I do? I can’t let all those people go hungry who depend on me.”

 State Rep. LaShawn K. Ford gets a lesson in the operation of the Columbus Park Food Pantry from founder & Director Marjorie Cobbs as he is taken on an inspection tour of the agency serving 2,300 people in need each month from the basement of the Columbus Park Refectory. (Photo by Brad)
Enter State Representative LaShawn K. Ford, who has become an enthusiastic champion of the Columbus Park Food Pantry and an outspoken admirer of Marj Cobbs. “I an amazed,” Ford said while conducting an inspection visit of the Pantry, meeting its staff, and hearing Ms Cobbs tell how the agency operates.
“She is a modern day saint who is always thinking of other people when she has long ago earned the right to sit down and take it easy. She is an inspiration,” Ford declares. “How can you not want to help her?”
So, Rep. Ford is depending upon the generosity of West Siders to open their hearts and wallets to ensure the Columbus Park Food Pantry continues to help neighbors in need as we head into the holiday season. Ford has set a goal of $5,000 to be used to purchase a van for picking up the Pantry’s weekly order of several thousand pounds of food. If more money is raised, it can pay for gasoline and maintenance for the van, plus pay the Food Depository for the Pantry’s weekly order of food. Alderman Deborah Graham of the 29th ward says she is joining the campaign.
Marj Cobbs notes that pressure is increasing on her Pantry to serve more people because many Chicagoans who obtained their food from Oak Park pantries are being turned away and told to visit Chicago pantries. This has boosted the number of weekly patrons at the Columbus Park Food Pantry.   
The Columbus Park Food Pantry is a tax-exempt not-for-profit agency and all contributions are tax-deductible. Checks may be sent in care of Representative LaShawn K. Ford, 5104 West Chicago Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60651. Designate that the money is for the Columbus Park Food Pantry Fund and a receipt will be mailed to you.
Columbus Park Food Pantry Director Marjorie Cobbs tells Rep. LaShawn K. Ford that the number of clients coming in is increasing because of the recession and because Oak Park pantries are turning away Chicago residents needing food. (Photo by Brad)