Friday, December 30, 2011

Everyone Has Fun at Alderman Ervin's Senior Citizen Dinner


 LEFT: Cook County Commissioner Robert Steele welcomes children of Sankofa Safe Child Initiative to a Christmas party he sponsored. (Photo by Charles Smith)

RIGHT: George Daniels of George’s Music Room plays Santa and helps distribute gifts at Commissioner Robert Steele’s Christmas party at Sankofa Safe Child Initiative. (Photo by Charles Smith)
Commissioner Robert Steele surrounded by the children of Sankofa Safe Child Initiative at the Christmas party he hosted. (Photo by Charles Smith)

As the Alderman of the 37th Ward, I - - Emma Mitts Extend the Warmest of Wishes To All and A HAPPY, HEALTHY & JOYOUS NEW YEAR!

The Loyal, Dedicated, Active and Concerned Community Residents,  to our  Diverse Small, Mid-Sized and Major Corporate Partners, Businesses and Companies in Our Great Community, to our Strong Clergy and to the Entire Religious Community who help keep us Faithful, Thankful, Humble and on the Right Life Path; To the Committed Community Leaders, Schools and  our Excellent Educators, Coaches, Counselors who Teach, Inspire and Mentor those in search of Higher Learning, to our Wonderful Hospitals and Health Care Facilities, and to each and every one of the Medical, Technical and Nursing staffs, Administrators and all the Strong Hospital Support Personnel who keep our facilities caring for the sick, injured and the aged among us; to the Youth who will Soar to the Heights with Unlimited Possibilities for Future Success, to the Working Individuals and Families who make up the 37th Ward,  to the Homeowners, Renters, Developers, Realtors and Landlords and the Seniors who have Given so Wisely and to Whom we all Owe a Much-Deserved Debt of Gratitude, to Our Local Newspaper (THE VOICE) and Media which keep us Informed, Aware and Up-to Date with the Latest Community News, Happenings and Issues, to All of the West Side Elected Officials who serve us so Well in the City, County, Statewide and in the United States Congress, and last but not least, to my wonderful, hard-working, knowledgeable and committed staff and organization…

I wish for each of you in the New Year, the very best!

Love & Peace and Prosperity
Healthy and Happy Families
Strong Safe Neighborhoods & Business Districts

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!
Happy Kwanzaa
Happy Hanukkah
Feliz Navidad

Ald. Emma Mitts welcomes Santa Claus to LaFollette Park toy giveaway

Friday, December 16, 2011

Frantic Behavior over Mindless Behavior!


The Boys Are Back In Town! Mindless Behavior, the hottest male singing group in the country, has a swagger that drives all the girls Mindless. Their first hit single, My Girl, surged to the top of the charts in no time. Their most recent single, Mrs. Right, is not far behind. At least 3,000 fans - mostly girls and young women - lined up for 3 blocks in Chicago's Loop for a glimpse of the teen heartthrobs and to get their CDs autographed by the group.
Mindless Behavior was formed in 2008 consisting of four exciting young men. There's Prodigy, named for his quick leaming ski ll s. Ray Ray was given his name by famous dance battler Tommy the Clown. Roc Royal is named for his dancing and rap skills. And Princeton has starred in commercials and music videos. The boys are only in their early teens, but their looks, talent, and rap and singing skills have earned them a huge fan base. Their album #1 Girl was released in September. Thousands of screaming fans came from all over Chicago to FYE Music Store, 26 East Randolph, for the chance to meet Mindless Behavior. There was a lot of singing, dancing, screaming, and crying as they waited. Everyone was having a good time. When the doors opened, fans poured in like water. The screams were so loud that you couldn't hear yourself think. It was reminiscent of watching a Michael Jackson concert. The place was filled with energy, with fans showing their love by bringing all kinds of gifts to the guys. Leaving, the boys dazzled their fans with hugs and blowing kisses to everyone.


Cook County Commissioner Earlean Collins contacted Austin social service agencies, inviting their clients to enjoy a festive Thanksgiving luncheon at New Jehovah M.B. Church, 1101 South Austin Boulevard. Many of the more than 100 people joining Commissioner Collins would not enjoy a Thanksgiving feast without her thoughtfulness.



Reverend Steve Spiller, Pastor of Greater Galilee M.B. Church, 1308 South Independence Boulevard, called together North Lawndale clergy and leaders for a meeting with Alderman Michael Chandler. “We wanted to learn his vision so we can move forward together,” Rev. Spiller explains.
More than 75 people were invited to this initial meeting at Greater Galilee Church and about 55 attended. “We told the Alderman we were not here to request anything, we were here to offer assistance and advice.”
The group appointed an advisory board consisting of clergy, residents, and business people to serve as a steering committee and a mechanism for becoming informed, according to Spiller, “because we can’t act without knowing what is going on.” This committee has already met to set priorities and an agenda for a second general meeting.
Rev. Spiller emphasizes that this is a dynamic time for the 24th ward and it is essential that community leaders get organized and promote accountability from elected officials to the people who elected them. Among the priorities the group agreed to focus upon are:
• Crime
• Education
• Employment & Training
• Healthcare Accessibility
Spiller emphasizes that although the group intends to work closely with Alderman Chandler in helping him set his agenda, they will operate independently, as well. Another goal is to attract new businesses to the ward, but also set standards for doing business in the community.
For information on the 24th Ward Leadership Council and to be informed of meetings, call Reverend Steve Spiller at Greater Galilee M.B. Church, 773/521-4330.


St. Angela students named to Second Honors for earning grade point averages of 2.6 to 3.2. (Photo by Brad)

St. Angela scholars recognized for First Honors with grade point averages of 3.4 and higher. (Photo by Brad)
    Geralyn Lawler, Principal of St. Angela Elementary School, 1334 North Massasoit Avenue, congratulated 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th & 8th grade students named to the school’s list of First and Second Honors. To qualify for First Honors, students must earn a grade point average of 3.4 or higher. To be placed on the Second Honors list, students must achieve a grade point average of 2.6 to 3.2.
    Three St. Angela students are Illinois Finalists in a Veteran’s Day Essay & Poster Contest sponsored by the Paralyzed Veterans of Illinois. Eyan Smith and Yvonne Wynne are winners of the poster competition and Matthew Gardner is a winner of the essay contest. St. Angela students have won top honors in the Veteran’s Day competition for several consecutive years.


At a community breakfast recognizing contributions of local leaders to the school, Frederick Douglass High School dedicated a mural portraying the outstanding personalities. The mural, created by Chicago artist Just Flo, depicts portraits of Congressman Danny K. Davis, Sheree Blakemore of Youth Guidance, Mildred Brackett, Juanita Florence, Principal Dr. Debra Crump, and Kenneth B. Morris, Jr., great-great-great grandson of Frederick A. Douglass. Morris heads the Frederick Douglass Family Foundation that crusades against the modern human slave trade. He also educates people about the life and accomplishments of Frederick Douglass.


Friday, December 9, 2011



It has been a busy semester already at St. Catherine-St. Lucy School, 27 Washington Boulevard in Oak Park, where students – more than 90% of whom live in Chicago’s West Side Austin community – are putting their leadership skills to work. On November 17, students from Dominican University held a Game Day for children they have been assisting this fall, ages 3 though grade 1. For information on enrollment, course offerings, and financial assistance, call Sister Marion Cypser, RSM, Principal, at 708/386-5286.

Friday, November 25, 2011


Although Lee Sacks has not lived in Garfield Park for many years, he has never forgotten playing in the park as a young boy and the impact it had in molding the man he became. Lee returned to the park with Mayor Rahm Emanuel to participate in the dedication of a new, state-of-the-art artificial turf field with modern drainage system so it can be used even after a downpour. The field is located near Hamlin & Jackson. “I loved playing in Garfield Park as a kid,” says Lee Sacks. “It is a real privilege to be able to help the kids who play there today. I want to thank the Park District, the Mayor, and the Pritzker Traubert Family Foundation for making this possible.” Lee Sacks was joined by his son, Michael Sacks of Grosvenor Capital Management L.P., who dedicated the field in honor of his father and installed a plaque marking the occasion. The improvement of the field is part of the Take the Field Initiative, which is combining public and private resources to build ten artificial turf athletic fields throughout the city of Chicago.


    Judge Dorothy Jones of the Cook County Circuit Court and an Austin resident last week sent a letter to Chief Judge Timothy Evans.  She states that family responsibilities and the health of her mother require her to resign from the bench, effective immediately.
    Judge Jones tells THE VOICE that her 89-year-old mother suffered a series of debilitating strokes in August followed by multiple surgeries. She was caring for a 6-year-old foster child at the time. Judge Jones has taken over raising the child and she says the job of parenting a young boy places great demands on her, despite her sister joining her from Texas to assist.
    Judge Jones was originally elected from a judicial subcircuit on Chicago’s West Side and has been retained in subsequent election cycles, winning countywide over the past 20 years. Before attending law school, Jones taught at Frederick Douglass Junior High School. She earned her law degree and worked for the Cook County Public Defender’s Office before being elected to the Circuit Court.
    Judge Jones was assigned to Criminal Court at Harrison & Kedzie and most recently sat in Pro Se Court. She was honored for Outstanding Public Service by THE VOICE Newspapers at last June’s West Side Community-Builders Awards Luncheon.


    On November 10, new Urban Partnership Bank opened a full-service branch in Austin at 5253 West Madison Street with several familiar faces on board. Urban Partnership, successor to the failed ShoreBank, was chartered in August 2010. The new institution has $1.4 billion in assets and declares its mission to be: “To build vibrant urban neighborhoods and promote economic and environmental sustainability in urban Chicago, Illinois, Cleveland, Ohio, and Detroit, Michigan.”
    Urban Partnership Bank was created when a group of investors acquired deposits and assets of ShoreBank from the FDIC. The bank is led by William Farrow, President and CEO. The investors and management team include experienced financial services professionals. Their commitment is to provide a renewed focus on transforming underserved and distressed urban neighborhoods with an emphasis on sustained growth.
    According to Urban Partnership’s President, William Farrow, “Our new branches offer responsible, affordable services and products that make banking more convenient and an exceptional value for customers. Our goal is to provide an alternative to high fees and high cost banking along with exceptional service and products,” he explains.
    Farrow told THE VOICE that a goal of his bank is to lure people out of the currency exchanges with low-fee services they can understand and trust without fear their money will be eaten away by back-end fees they aren’t expecting. He says he understands that people know they are paying exorbitant fees to conduct their financial transactions at currency exchanges, but pay those at the front end and accept them as costs of doing business. Plus, these are fees they pay directly and they know what it leaves them.
    “The additional drawback to this practice,” explains Farrow, “is that it keeps the currency exchange clientele in a cash economy, building no equity, establishing no savings, and building no credit. This keeps the entire community poor.” He says it will take time and effort, but Urban Partnership will be working to change this mindset and build a financially literate community wherever the bank has branches.
    The Austin Micro-Branch and all Urban Partnership locations provide 24/7 access to bill pay kiosks and ATMs, and will be compatible for mobile banking. Urban Partnership identifies as its target clientele working individuals, including those currently not utilizing any bank services, persons seeking to buy or renovate real estate, small businesses, not-for-profit organizations, and faith-based institutions.
    Although Urban Partnership is chartered as a Community Development Bank, a major difference between it and the old ShoreBank in Austin is that Urban Partnership offers a full range of retail banking services to residents of the entire West Side. ShoreBank in Austin provided mortgage and real estate services only to residents of Austin and its local branch provided no retail banking services.
    Among familiar faces at the Urban Partnership Austin Micro-Branch are Michele Collins in Real Estate Lending and Branch Manager Sharron Troupe. Collins was Branch Manager of ShoreBank in Austin and Troupe is former Manager of Austin Bank of Chicago’s Lake Street facility.
    For information about Urban Partnership Bank, stop in at 5253 West Madison Street, call 773/420-5050, or log onto



Community Bank of Oak Park River Forest presented its latest Champion Grant to the Academy of Scholastic Achievement, 4651 West Madison Street, in Austin. A grant in the amount of $2,000 was presented to Gladys Simpson, founder and Chief Administrator of the alternative school, on Thursday, November 3, by Bernard D. Headley II, Community Lending Specialist for Community Bank.
The Academy of Scholastic Achievement is a nonprofit public alternative high school providing quality educational instruction to high school dropouts and students who are disconnected from traditional public schools. The school was founded in 1978 and is a campus of Youth Connection Charter School.
With Community Bank’s Champion Grant, ASA will provide up to 50 students and their families with job-readiness training via online courses. ASA will also conduct three workshops focused on resume writing, effective interviewing and financial literacy. The goal is to ensure that students and families are prepared to launch successful job searches and that they have the skills, knowledge, and resources to manage their money, avoid debt, establish positive credit, and build asset wealth.
The purpose of Champion Grants is to assist not-for-profit organizations and agencies provide community outreach programs for low and moderate income individuals. Through the Champion Grant, Community Bank of Oak Park River Forest encourages growth and support in economically challenged communities. Champion Grants are awarded to outstanding organizations throughout the year. Champion Grant application and qualifications are available on the Community Bank website at Community Bank of Oak Park River Forest was organized in 1996 as a locally-owned bank. The bank has two locations: 1001 Lake Street, Oak Park; and 7777 Lake Street, River Forest.


Austin resident Roberta Wilson is one of four Illinois residents age 65 and older selected for the Illinois Senior Hall of Fame by the Department on Aging. New inductees were chosen in the categories of Community Service, Performance & Arts, Labor Force, and Education. Ms Wilson was selected for her contributions to Education.
Roberta Wilson, age 84, was born in Thomson, Georgia. She moved to Chicago in 1946 and took a job in the Laundry Room of the Hotel Bismarck as a member of Local 46 Laundry Workers Union. After three years, she took a job with a commercial laundry. During this time, Roberta and her husband had a son, Wayne.
In 1968, Roberta went to work for the Chicago Public Schools, beginning a 36-year career. She served as a Teacher’s Assistant at Austin High School, John Hay, Sumner, Moos, and Schubert Elementary Schools. She worked at Schubert for 29 years. After retiring, she continued volunteering in the schools.
Roberta has been an active member of Third Unitarian Church in Austin for 50 years and in 1974 started the Third Unitarian Scholarship Fund, providing monetary assistance to local students heading to college. She continues to chair the annual scholarship awards.
She also organized and manages the annual coat drive at Third Unitarian, volunteers at local food pantries, and shelters. She organized and chairs the 1400 North Lockwood Block Club and is a member of Congressman Danny K. Davis’ Education Task Force. She has been a soldier in the civil rights movement since the 1960s.
Roberta is currently battling to make sure the CTA provides economical public transportation to her fellow seniors. She says she remembers riding the streetcars in Chicago when the fare was 3 cents. She regrets Governor Quinn’s action repealing the free rides for seniors program and is fighting to reinstate it.

Friday, November 18, 2011


Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Park District Interim Superintendent Mike Kelly joined Alderman Emma Mitts, Representative La Shawn K. Ford, Pat McCaskey of the Chicago Bears, Alderman Walter Burnett, Jr., and representatives of the Parkways Foundation, McCormick Foundation, and the Pritzker Traubert Family Foundation in officially dedicating the new football field and running track in LaFollette Park.
The Chicago Bears and Bears Care have a long history of supporting youth football programming. They are partners in the renovation project at LaFollette Park in Austin, providing a state-of-the-art all-weather artificial turf surface and lighting that will allow the field to be used nine months of the year. The track has a colorful cushioned surface for comfort and safety.
The field is part of the Take the Field Initiative, which combines public and private resources to build ten artificial turf athletic fields throughout the city of Chicago.
Chicago Bear D.J. Moore and former Bears Garrett Wolfe and Jerry Azumah participated in the dedication ceremony.
Cost of the running track is tagged at $700,000. The Pritzker Traubert Family Foundation has committed to donate up to $5 million on a 1:1 matching basis. To date, all partners have dedicated $7.9 million to the program.
“Parkways is honored to continue our work of investing in Chicago’s parks to enrich communities,” said Stacey Reineking Sather, Chairperson of Parkways Foundation. “We believe a park should be a hub of positive activity for every neighborhood and are thrilled to play a collaborative role in the refurbishing of the track at LaFollette Park to engage more Chicagoans to increase their fitness and create healthier lifestyles.”

Friday, November 11, 2011


At 6’3”, Mark Lenon is an imposing presence, but it is not just his physical build that attracts attention. He is a complex young man with many artistic facets. Start with his ethnic background – a mixture of African American, white, and Native American. He is the current Graphic Design student from the Paul Simon Job Corps Center completing his Work-based Study requirement at THE VOICE Newspapers.
Adding to his cultural diversity, Mark grew up in Independence, Kansas, spent his teenage years in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and then joined his brothers and sister in Chicago. His hobbies reflect his artistic interests, too. Mark enjoys writing and listening to music, being the DJ at parties, hanging with friends, and going to concerts. He plays the guitar, drums, and piano. He takes creating, performing, and producing music very seriously and believes he might even make a career of it.
“I believe anyone who has the imagination to create music that pleases other people deserves a shot at changing the music industry,” Mark observes.
Mark is also an athlete, enjoying gymnastics, skateboarding, long-boarding, and Parkour. He likes eating seafood and his favorite colors are black, gray, and purple.
Mark spent most of his time in his early years with his grandparents and his mother. They lived in a very small town and there were not a lot of people from outside the state living there. His middle school was a couple of blocks away, so he walked to school. “Walking is very natural for me and I’d walk everywhere if I could.”
Mark says he never had any problem making friends and getting along with everyone, so he’s always had a large circle of friends. In school, he played drums and percussion in the marching band through his sophomore year in high school.
Mark has been attending the Paul Simon Chicago Job Corps Center for 15 months. He says he joined the Job Corps to get his life together and build a future doing something he loves. So, he is studying Graphic Design. He says his most important consideration was to obtain a GED so he can go to college and study Photography, Film, or Journalism, and then get a job.
He says he likes the fact that he can go directly to college from the Job Corps or enter the job market ready to work. “Job Corps helps you with finding a job and searching for a career position just for you. You are in control of your own destiny and you have what it takes to take matters into your own hands,” Mark explains.
After the Job Corps, Mark says he expects to have a job in film or photography that is financially and spiritually fulfilling. He plans to have an apartment or condo so he can be living independently.
What are two of Mark’s biggest dreams? To go on tour with a DJ, band, or group that he listens to. He also wants to write a book and get it published.
Currently, Mark is completing his Work-based Study requirement to graduate from the Job Corps. He is using what he has learned in class to lay out and design THE VOICE Newspapers each week. Just another step on his road to success!


On October 28, West Side civic leaders, local residents, and officials of Habilitative Systems, Inc., cut the ribbon officially opening the Enola A. Dew Apartments for Senior Living, a $10 million, 60-unit complex funded by the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development and the City of Chicago Department of Housing, located at 4623 West Gladys Street. The 55,995 square foot building has a green roof and each 1-bedroom apartment is air conditioned and fully accessible for people with disabilities. This is the third senior/disability housing complex owned and managed by Habilitative Systems, Inc.
The new residential facility is named for the mother of Donald Dew, President & CEO of Habilitative Systems, Inc. Enola A. Dew was a health educator and community organizer on Chicago’s West Side for many years. Dew said of his mother, “She was one of the best strategic planners I’ve ever seen. She came to Chicago from Louisiana in search of a better life. She found it and wanted to make sure that others enjoyed the same inspiration and support she was able to provide her family,” he explained.
Mrs. Dew, who died several years ago, worked with Congressman Danny K. Davis in the 1970s to bring health and wellness programs to the West Side. Congressman Davis said, “Mrs. Dew was a tireless advocate for the disenfranchised. She didn’t believe people should suffer or be left behind due to their circumstances.”
For information on rental opportunities at the Enola A. Dew Apartments or regarding HSI programs, call 773/261-2252.


Approximately 12 residents and their family members are being ordered out of what they say is a substandard building at the northeast corner of North Avenue and Austin Boulevard. They say they all suddenly received eviction orders despite being on annual or month-to-month leases and having rents paid up to date.
They charge the rental agency for the building – Pangea Realty – refuses to accept rent payments from tenants, but offered some of them $400 cash if they vacated their apartments in three days.
Tenants say Pangea has been harassing them by changing locks on the building’s entry door, turning off heat and hot water in the building, and refusing to correct code violations, such as exterminating rodents, repairing plumbing and electricity, repairing holes in walls, etc.
The residents are being represented by attorneys from Lawyers Committee for Better Housing. Businesses in the building’s storefronts are also being evicted, except allegedly the corner grocery store that 25th district police and CAPS label “a chronic problem and gathering place for troublemakers.”


Tickets are on sale now for the all-new surge of circus electricity from Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey. Fully Charged opens November 3 at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, running through November 13.
Megawatts of thrills explode as THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH continues its Chicago performances November 16-27 at Chicago’s United Center.
Fueled by excitement-boosting performance power, Fully Charged is filled with amazing acts, including Talayara, a dynamic animal trainer whose rare ability to communicate with animals allows him to stand eye-to-eye with a dozen ferocious tigers, ride rearing stallions at a fully-charged gallop, and orchestrate majestic 4-ton Asian elephants in a symphony of dance.
Other highlights include the strongman duo of Dmitry & Ruslan and the fearless Fernandez Brothers, who attempt a 360-degree flying forward somersault atop spinning 3-story-high steel wheels, a feat so difficult it has only been attempted by one other person in the 141-year history of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.
In a fitting finale to this super-charged spectacle, The Human Fuse, Brian Miser, sets the arena sky ablaze as he rockets through the air from his self-made human crossbow, traveling 110 feet at 65 miles per hour.
Audiences are encouraged to come an hour before show time to the All Access Pre-show – FREE to all ticket holders – and meet the world’s greatest performers and animals, learn some circus skills, and work to become CircusFit, all before the show even starts!
Fully Charged provides hours of thrilling entertainment that is fun for the whole family for about the price of a movie ticket. A great value in family entertainment, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is Ticketmaster’s Number One most purchased family event. Tickets starting at $13 are available through Ticketmaster and the Allstate Arena and United Center Box Offices, by calling 1-800-745-3000, or by visiting

Violence Prevention Initiative Awarded to the West Garfield Park Community
In July 2011, Fathers Who Care was awarded a $300,000 grant from the Illinois Violence Prevention Authority to provide violence prevention programs and activities for youth between the ages of 10 to 24 years of age. The mission of the program is to nurture youth growth and development by cultivating youth organizing, leadership development and advocacy amongst our youth to help combat youth violence their volatile behaviors. Fathers Who Care will provide direct service response initiatives or medium to high risk youth living within the West Garfield Park community.
Through IVPA’s Safety Net Works program Fathers Who Care along with other West Garfield Park community partners and sub-contractors will provide a variety of youth activities, services and programs that include youth mentoring, after-school and recreational programs, youth life-skills development, tutoring, computer literacy, substance abuse and mental health counseling as well as case management services. Fathers Who Care serves as the lead agency for this violence prevention initiative with sub-contracting partners that include; Habilitative Systems Inc., I AM ABLE, Saving Our Sons and United for Better Living.
The West Garfield Park Safety Net Works Coalition also has a youth council designed to give youth the opportunity to voice their opinions, concerns and comments regarding violence within their community and ways they can work together to promote non-violence through a positive and interactive youth council. West Garfield Park Safety Net Works is seeking young people between the ages of 14 to 24 to serve on its youth council.
For more information, to volunteer or participate in our violence preventions initiatives in the West Garfield Park community, please contact Ms. Dionne Blackwell, Project Coordinator at 773-287-5821.


Friday, November 4, 2011

Alderman Mitts Salutes 37th Ward Resident Roberta Wilson - Who ‘Makes a Difference’ in the Lives of Others

I am deeply honored to serve as the Alderman of the 37th Ward, primarily because of the wonderful residents that we are fortunate to have live and work in our vibrant and diverse community.
That’s why I am especially proud of the recent 2011 State of Illinois Senior Citizen of the Year in the area of Education honor bestowed on one of the 37th Ward’s finest citizens - - Mrs. Roberta Wilson by the Honorable Pat Quinn, the Governor of the State of Illinois a few saluting her accomplishments days ago. She attended a gala reception and awards ceremony at the Governor’s mansion.
Mrs. Wilson was chosen from over one-hundred and fifty nominees across Illinois to receive the top award, which is worthy of recognition itself! As I mentioned last week, Mrs. Roberta Wilson, a longtime 37th Ward resident and loyal community activist, education advocate and supporter, has worked to improve the lives of young people through education for nearly three decades. She has served as a tenacious, tireless and dedicated liaison between local and state educators, policymakers and community residents. She has marched for school choice. A kind yet out-spoken woman, Mrs. Wilson best describes her life philosophy in this manner, which she learned from a favorite aunt who generously gave of her time, talents and treasures: to her family and community.
“I’ve always believed that individuals should have the opportunity to reach their highest potential - and I know that education is the best way to open the door to future success. I was taught to aim high and never give up on your dreams.”
Employed by the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) for over twenty-seven years, Mrs. Wilson transferred her love of education to several generations of lucky students. She is very active in the 37th Ward, volunteer for local churches, a Block Club President, an energetic member of many local organizations. CONGRATULATIONS and best wishes for a most deserving woman!! More on this important honor for a 37th Ward resident!!
The 2011-2012 State of the 37th Ward “Report to the Community” will be Unveiled October 27th: This is an event not to miss!! Alderman Emma Mitts cordially invites ALL 37th Ward residents to join her to find out what’s going on in OUR community!!! Join us on Thursday, October 27, 2011, from 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. at Prosser Career Academy, 2148 North Long, for an evening of ‘conversation and community action’!! Meet representatives from the Mayor’s Office and City Departments, hear local 37th ward news, project updates, current and future city-sponsored initiatives and programs, and the Alderman’s vision for the 37th Ward. We need YOUR Input!! Call 773-745-2894 for more information. See you there!!!

Need a city service? Feel free to call my ward office at 773-745-2894.

Emma Mitts is the Alderman of the 37th Ward. This message is a series of weekly columns which address local issues, upcoming projects and initiatives as well as key events within the ward


A Grand Avenue Shrimp House chef offers the new lighter, crunchier and tastier shrimp. Try it – you’ll like it! (Photo by Brad)
Grand Avenue Shrimp House, 5358 W. Grand, has made its basic recipe even better. The restaurant was named by TIME OUT CHICAGO Magazine as one of the city’s three best. (Photo by Brad)

Sometimes you don’t want to mess with a good thing. Coca-Cola learned this when they changed the recipe for Coke and it was disastrous. But, the cooks at Grand Avenue Shrimp House, 5358 West Grand Avenue, are always tempting their customers with new creations.
Now, after 15 successful years, they are changing the breading recipe on their basic seafood entrees.
We held our breath because we love the taste of their battered & deep-fried shrimp and other seafood items. Were they messing with success?
The answer is NO! The new breading recipe is just as tasty, but it is much lighter and crunchier. It accents the delicate flavor of the shrimp and other seafood. Plus, it contrasts well with the texture of the items it covers.
Check out the new recipe and ask about their occasional homemade specials, like Shrimp Gumbo, Dirty Rice, Red Beans & Rice, and Jambalaya with Andouille Sausage.
Call ahead to 773/622-1890 or 773/622-1568 and your order will be ready when you get there. TIME OUT CHICAGO Magazine declared Grand Avenue Shrimp House one of the three best shrimp restaurants in the city!



Sandra Douglas, Data Coordinator for the Chicago Area Project’s CDTES program, demonstrates how job-seekers can access the Manpower touch-screen computer to apply for jobs at 605 S. Albany. The service is free and open to the public. (Photo by Isaac Jones)

Chicago Area Project manages Career Development, Training & Employment Services (CDTES) at 605 South Albany Avenue. It is an employment program promoting economic independence and self-sufficiency for low-income individuals. Its clients must be receiving food stamps and TANF benefits, and be recommended to the program by the Illinois Dept. of Human Services.
CDTES is now partnering with Manpower, an independent job placement service. Manpower installed a computerized kiosk in the Chicago Area Project office. This electronic job-search equipment is available for use by any community residents at no cost Monday through Friday, 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM.
Job search candidates can use the Manpower computer kiosk to apply directly for positions in high-demand fields such as healthcare, renewable energy, and logistics, as well as many others. Applicants can search for jobs and follow on-screen instructions to complete a job-seeker profile and application.
For information on CDTES job preparation and placement services and for use of the Manpower kiosk, call 312/588-3860, log onto, or visit the office at 605 South Albany Avenue.


Kyle Lee has set a new Marshall High School record with 4 kick returns for touchdowns in the Commandos’ 7-1 season so far. (Photo by Brad)

Kyle Lee, the 5’7”, 123-pound Wide Receiver for the Marshall Commandos football team, has set a new school record with 4 kick returns for touchdowns so far this year. The Commandos currently have a 7-1 record and are looking ahead to the playoffs.
Kyle, a 16-year-old junior runs the 40-yard dash in 4.4 and is being compared to his idol – Devin Hester of the Bears. Kyle even wears Hester’s number: 23.

Kyle Lee wears number 23, the same as his idol, Devin Hester of the Bears. The speedy, sure-handed junior has played football every year for Marshall. (Photo by Brad)



A gala launch party was held last week for Knight Insurance Agency’s newest office on Chicago’s West Side. The firm is owned and directed by U.S. Congressman Danny K. Davis, Reverend Johnny Miller, Reverend Johnny Henderson, Fred Davis, James Jones, Lester Barclay, Don Patterson, and Paris Fountis.
Knight Insurance was established in 1936 and its brokers represent numerous lines of insurance and underwriters, assuring the appropriate coverage at the most economical price. This agency provides complete personal and commercial insurance coverage, business insurance, commercial property insurance, employee group medical insurance, homeowners and renters insurance, Medicare plans, vehicle insurance, and worker’s compensation. The agency offers church programs.
Paris Fountis is the Agent for this Knight Insurance office, located at 715 West Maxwell Street. The phone number is 312/243-0943 and e-mail is


Representatives of the Chicago and Markham Police Departments, Cook County State’s Attorney’s office, and Alderman Robert Fioretti’s staff met with teenagers to open a dialog on issues such as stereotyping. Youth talked about attitudes of police toward them when contact is made, especially when young people are minding their own business and socializing in their neighborhoods.
One police officer at the meeting told of being harassed by police when he was a teenager. But, he challenged the youth, “Don’t be angry at the police. Become a police officer and change it.” He added, “Programs like this should be mandatory throughout the nation.”
For information on Chicago Area Project programs and how to become involved, call Kathleen Mosley at 312/588-3816 or at

Friday, October 21, 2011


Myra J. Sampson, Exec. Dir./Principal of Community Christian Academy, 1231 S. Pulaski Rd., is presented with the Comcast Outstanding Achievement in Education Award from 24th Ward Alderman Michael Chandler, surrounded by students. The award was announced in June at THE VOICE Newspapers’ 2nd Annual West Side Community Builders Awards Luncheon. The outstanding specialty & alternative high school has been operating for 33 years and has 180 students enrolled. For information on course offerings & registration, call 773/262-2272. (Photo by Brad)

The 50th Anniversary of the Peace Corps

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps, Bev Cooper, host & producer of Cooper’s Corner, interviewed Trina Janes, a Peace Corps volunteer who served in Morocco from 1991-1994, and Northwestern Univ. grad. Courtney Sharpe, who served in Morocco from 2009-2011. The Peace Corps was launched in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy and more than 200,000 Americans have served as volunteers in 139 countries.


This year’s Illinois State Prevention Bowl filled the US Cellular Field Conference Center with 80 excited 7th & 8th grade students from 20 Chicagoland schools preparing to compete against each other by displaying their knowledge about HIV & AIDS physiology and prevention techniques, effects of drug, alcohol, and tobacco abuse, methods of anger management & peaceful conflict resolution. Produced by The Prevention Partnership, Inc., the state’s acclaimed educational clearinghouse on effective methods for preventing unhealthy lifestyle choices, the event grows larger and includes more schools each year. Principal sponsors include: the Illinois Department of Human Services, Division of Community Health & Prevention; Walmart; Mayor Deyon L. Dean & the Village of Riverdale; A.L. Bates Consulting; Larry Williams, State Farm Insurance agent; Chicago Alderman Emma Mitts; U.S. Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP), Faith & Community-based Support Initiative; Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities (TASC); Cook County Department of Public Health; Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago; Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.-Iota Phi Sigma Graduate Chapter; MazeJac Enterprises; Prevention First, Inc.; Midwest Music Machine; and International Business Machines (IBM).
The competing middle school students have been studying the topics all year long and are ready to press the buzzers to ring in with the right answers in this high-pressure game show format. Watching and cheering them on are teachers, parents, and celebrity guests from the worlds of sports, show business, and politics. Present at this year’s Prevention Bowl are Victor Adeyanju of the Cincinnati Bengals; Khalil Bell of the Chicago Bears; Leonard “GLC” Harris, GOOD Music Recording artist; and Nevermore, popular member of Crucial Conflict recording group.
The day started with words of encouragement. Recording artist GLC told the students, “You are not just the future, you are the present!”
Albert Orsello, CEO of The Prevention Partnership, told the students, “You are the ambassadors of prevention – each of you reach out to ten other people and the message will be spread.”
Nevermore of Crucial Conflict advised the young people, “The only limitations on you are the ones you place on yourself.”
Alderman Emma Mitts told them to “Dream Big,” and advised, “When you know you know, don’t let anyone tell you you don’t know what you know you know! Remember, a closed mouth never gets fed.”
News of the success of the Illinois Prevention Bowl is spreading, too. Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and California are asking to be included in the competition. As the Prevention Bowl expands, it is also attracting media attention, with television networks expressing interest in broadcasting the competition. So, too, are corporate sponsors stepping up to support the young people.
For information on entering a school in the 2012 Prevention Bowl, call Adam Bates at The Prevention Partnership, Inc., 773/378-4195.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011



Brad Cummings, Associate Editor of THE VOICE Newspapers, was elected Secretary/Treasurer of the Paul Simon Chicago Job Corps Center Community Relations Council. He is also chairing the Community Support Subcommittee. THE VOICE Newspapers have been strong promoters of the local Job Corps Center, located at 3348 South Kedzie Avenue.
    Cummings and VOICE Publisher, Isaac Jones, are responsible for bringing Illinois Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon to the Center for her first visit to the U.S. Department of Labor campus named for her father, U.S. Senator Paul Simon. They also introduced the Chicago Job Corps Center to several West Side elected officials.
    THE VOICE Newspapers serve as a site for Job Corps Graphic Design students to complete their required Work-based Learning Internship composing, laying out, and typesetting editions of the West Side’s largest circulation community newspapers. The Chicago Job Corps Center is the only one in the country offering training in Graphic Design.
    “The Paul Simon Job Corps Center is one of Chicago’s gems,” Cummings declares. “At a time when everyone is talking about jobs, the Paul Simon Job Corps Center is preparing men and women ages 16 to 24 for rewarding high-paying careers in construction trades, nursing, materials handling, computer repair, pharmacy tech, office administration, and graphic design. And, it’s all free – the training, on-campus dormitory housing, food, GED or high school diploma preparation, childcare, job placement, and free tuition at Chicago City Colleges. We need more West Siders to take advantage of this terrific program. That’s why I am happy to help get the message out.”
    Free tours of the campus are offered weekly. For information on applying for the Job Corps, call Beth Allen at 773/890-3131.
    Other officers of the Paul Simon Chicago Job Corps Center Community Relations Council are: Ben Handy, Chairman, and Pleshette Hamb, Vice Chairperson.


Zenza Anita Laws built a 30-year career in education as a teacher and principal in West Side and South Side Chicago Catholic schools. She died after a 2-year battle with cancer on September 21.
    She began her professional career teaching 5th grade at Holy Angels Elementary School. Ms Laws returned to the West Side where she grew up to teach at St. Mel, St. Thomas Aquinas, and St. Martin de Porres Elementary Schools. She built a reputation as an excellent and caring teacher who challenged her students to reach their full potentials. She was also a tough but fair disciplinarian. Ms Laws was known as a dynamic and passionate teacher. Her energy in the classroom was contagious. She strove to create discussion and debate whenever possible. She had a particular love for the English language and often grilled her students on grammar and punctuation.
    Her students frequently joined her and her family on weekends for family gatherings and on family outings. In addition to teaching, Ms Laws coached volleyball and cheerleading teams, directed student plays, and organized African American heritage observances.
    After almost 20 years in the classroom, Ms Laws became an administrator. After obtaining her graduate degree, she became the Principal of the Academy of St. Benedict the African on Chicago’s South Side, and served there for ten years. Just as she was a trailblazer and motivator, she brought the same strength and leadership to her role as Principal. She led St. Benedict through years of expanded growth and improvement. She spent the last years of her career as a Principal in Forest Park.
    Zenza Anita Laws was born in Chicago on November 25, 1958, to Lois and Milton Brown. She joined United Baptist Church under the leadership of Reverend Wilson Daniels, and remained an active member until her death.
    Zenza graduated from Lucy Flower Vocational High School. She earned Bachelor of Arts Degrees in Communications and Education from Rosary College. While attending college, she met and fell in love with Joseph Laws. They were married November 30, 1979. Nearly 20 years later, while teaching and raising her family, Ms Laws earned a Master of Arts Degree in Education Administration from Dominican University.
    Zen was preceded in death by her aunt, Erma Anthony, her grandmother, Ellen Ward, and her sister Yauletus Bridge. She is survived by her husband, Joseph W. Laws, Jr.; her son, Joseph W. Laws III; her two daughters, Zenita Laws and Veronique Laws; her mother, Lois Anthony Brown; her father, Milton Brown; her sisters, Paula Brownlee & Yaquala Gant (Timothy); her brothers, Yaumilton & Hesley (Angela); aunts, Willie L. Bryant, Ciritha Nathan of Colorado Springs, Colorado, Evelyn Taylor of Memphis, Tennessee, and Earsey Lottis of Fresno, California; and uncle William Brown of Memphis; plus numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, in-laws, friends, and hundreds of former students who remember her fondly.
    The wake for Zenza Anita Laws is being held at 10:00 AM, Saturday, October 1, at United Baptist Church, 4242 West Roosevelt Road. Funeral service follows at 11:00 AM, with Reverend Wilson Daniels officiating. She is being buried in Oakridge Cemetery in Hillside.

Friday, October 14, 2011


Dr. Shawn Jackson, Principal of Spencer Math, Science & Technology Academy, 214 N. Lavergne Ave., accepts the Comcast Outstanding Achievement in Education Award from Alderman Jason Ervin at the September meeting of Austin Coming Together (ACT). With them are Spencer Parent Coordinator Cynthia Peterson & State Representative Camille Lilly. The award was announced in June at THE VOICE Newspapers’ 2nd Annual West Side Community Builders Awards Luncheon. Presentation of the award to Dr. Jackson coincides with announcement that Spencer has been removed from academic probation. (Photo by Brad)





Carolyn Ball
Larry Chandler
Laverne Grayson
Carolyn Mack
Steven McKinley
William Nelson
Willy Earl Pullen
Johnny Sandifer
Phyllis Stewart

Planning Committee

Director: Elizabeth Jarvis LeBreton, HHS
Athena Williams
Hermese Bryant
Janice Henry
Victoria Prewitt

Monday, September 26, 2011


 Angel Turner explains that it is her job as
an elementary school principal not just to
prepare students for high school, but for
college and to compete in a global economy.
(Photo by Isaac Jones)
 Morton Librarian Kristy Rieger says she
works to introduce students to a variety
of different texts and genres, including
graphic novels – good literature in
comic book format. (Photo by Isaac Jones)
 Morton School of Excellence is a Teacher Training
Academy where Resident Instructors learn beside
experienced Mentor Teachers. (Photo by Isaac Jones)
 Morton teachers are carefully
selected to meet differing
learning styles of students.
(Photo by Isaac Jones)
 Faye Jett, Athletic Director & Phys. Ed. Teacher,
uses creative techniques for keeping kids fit, active
& involved. (Photo by Isaac Jones)
 As an AUSL school, Morton benefits from extra resources, such as offering Spanish classes through Language Stars. (Photo by Isaac Jones)
Morton School of Excellence surged from one of the state’s worst-performing schools to a
top academic school with over 90% of students Meeting & Exceeding state standards under
AUSL management. (Photo by Isaac Jones)
It is almost impossible to believe that in three short years Morton School of Excellence, 431 North Troy, has gone from being one of the very worst performing schools in the state of Illinois to making the second-largest test score gains in the city of Chicago. In 2008, the Chicago Public Schools contracted the Academy for Urban School Leadership to manage Morton. AUSL is a private company that specializes in repositioning underperforming schools, relaunching them for success. AUSL manages Dodge Renaissance Academy, Bethune School of Excellence, Howe School of Excellence, Johnson School of Excellence, Orr High School, and Collins High School on Chicago’s West Side, as well as several South Side schools.
The schools managed by AUSL remain Chicago Public Schools – not charter schools – and all instructors are members of the Chicago Teachers Union.
Usually, the turnaround schools are closed and AUSL personnel repair and upgrade the plant facilities. The administration and teaching staffs are also replaced by specially selected educators expert at promoting student achievement. AUSL operates several Teacher Training Academies with Resident Instructors assigned to experienced Mentor Teachers. Morton is now a Teacher Training Academy for AUSL.
AUSL also makes resources and partnerships available to which other Chicago Public Schools do not have access. For instance, on the Martin Luther King holiday in January, the Illinois Lottery and WGCI Radio teamed with volunteers to transform Morton’s library into a modern multi-media center. Through the Community Schools Initiative, the YMCA is housed inside Morton, providing after-school programs for students. Morton participates in a partnership with the Joffrey Ballet, teaching Hip-Hop dance to middle school students four days a week. Language Stars brings a Spanish teacher to the school. AUSL has a Fine Arts & Performing Arts Director who assists Morton in obtaining programs in drama, music, and the visual arts. In addition, a partnership with Merit Music brings music classes to Morton students, while other public schools complain that budget constraints are removing the arts from their schools.
AUSL operates the only tackle football and baseball leagues in the city for elementary level students, and provides equipment. In spring, an athletic practice field was created adjacent to the Morton building through a creative land swap with a neighboring agency. A former collegiate all-star runs Morton’s football program. Morton’s Double-Dutch Team placed #1 in the city.
Angel Turner is the visionary Principal of Morton School of Excellence, guiding the 20 instructors, 30 support staff, 350 students, and members of the Local Parent Advisory Council. When she came to Morton in 2009, Turner says, “Students and parents were totally out of control.” She met with school stakeholders and let them know the school needed a change in culture and climate. Turner said it took a long time to establish a regular in-school routine and get parents to understand that they could not run the school and disrupt classes. Before she arrived, police were called to Morton daily because of students fighting and disruptive parents.
Turner explains that children yearn for structure, routines, and systems. She says it is important for adults to model for kids and help them channel energy positively. She and the staff promoted the slogan: It’s Not Playtime – It’s Crunchtime!
As a result of the changes made in the school, Morton was named #1 in the city for improvement in safety and security by the University of Chicago. Turner emphasizes that the same students are attending Morton now as when the school was failing academically and conditions were out of control.
Another gauge of change at Morton is that children are arriving before school opens, going to the library to read and study. “The building is open every day until 6:00 PM,” Turner notes. “But, we have to tell students that we are closed and they have to go home.”
Morton proudly proclaims itself a 90-90-90 School: 90% low income, 90% African American, and 90% of students Meeting and Exceeding state academic standards.
The first year Turner was Principal, three Morton students were accepted to selective enrollment high schools. This year, 20 Morton graduates are attending prestigious high schools.
Ms Turner explains, “The responsibility for elementary school principals is not just to prepare students for high school, but to prepare them for post-secondary and college.” She says her job is to prepare students to compete in a global economy by developing their critical thinking methodologies.
With 350 students in a building that accommodates 1,000, Morton has the luxury of room for special programs and projects. As a Balanced Literacy School, Morton is open seven days a week for teachers to come in and plan innovative lessons. Morton provides Pre-K3, PreK4, and Kindergarten through 8th grade. For information on enrolling children at Morton School of Excellence, call 773/534-6791.

Friday, September 23, 2011


A jazz trio entertains at the Westside Art Space exhibition reception. (Photo by Brad)

A young visitor to Westside Art Space studies pictures by Haitian artists displayed in the show. (Photo by Brad)

Victor Ochieng curates exhibitions at the Westside Art Space, 5847 W. Chicago Ave., and hosts the current show. For information, call 773/957-6510 or e-mail ZAARDHI@YAHOO.COM. (Photo by Brad)

The current show at Westside Art Space features a variety of styles by several artists. (Photo by Brad)


    Khadejah Bryant
    Powerhouse High School

    Kadesha Bynum
    Powerhouse High School

    Stephon Carter
    Powerhouse High School

    Kieyonna Chandler
    Academy of Scholastic Achievement

    Asia Davis
    Jensen Academy

    Crystal Dod
    Michele Clark High School
    De’Ahn Huddleston
    Lindblom Math & Science Academy

    Julius Lucas
    Academy of Scholastic Achievement

    E’lia Murry
    Academy of Scholastic Achievement

    Sherita Pickett
    Christ the King College Prep High School

    Angel Powell
    Powerhouse High School

    Khadijan Robinson
    Powerhouse High School

    Shanovia Wilson
    Academy of Scholastic Achievement