Friday, January 14, 2011


 Cartons of fresh fruits & vegetables are free for the taking at New Mt. Pilgrim M.B. Church, 4301 W. Washington Blvd., the 3rd Thursday of each month, compliments of the Produce Mobile. (Photo by Stephen Dunn)
It’s a food bonanza when the Produce Mobile pulls into New Mt. Pilgrim Church’s parking lot the 3rd Thursday of each month from 9:00-11:00 AM. Volunteers unload the truck and help people gather the fresh fruits & vegetables to take home. (Photo by Stephen Dunn)

The Produce Mobile brings a bonanza of fresh fruits and vegetables to New Mount Pilgrim M.B. Church, 4301 West Washington Boulevard, the 3rd Thursday of each month, from 9:00 to 11:00 AM, for distribution free of charge to whoever wants it. The truck pulls into the church parking lot and volunteers unload crates of fresh produce and put them on tables or stack them for people to carry off. The next scheduled date for the Produce Mobile is Thursday, January 20.
 Norman Stewart, Thad Hall, Alfred Bradley, and Kirsey Sherill stock up on fresh fruits & vegetables given out free when the Produce Mobile visits New Mt. Pilgrim Church the 3rd Thursday of each month. (Photo by Stephen Dunn)



Chicago Parking Meters principals kick off their philanthropy program with a $10,000 donation to Chicago Youth Centers, joining CYC officials and 9-to-12-year-old youth at the Elliot Donnelly Youth Center in Bronzeville.

Santa, aka Kevin O’Hara of LAZ Parking, talks with Special Olympics athletes & coaches during the cross-country skiing & snowshoe competition at Mann Park. CPM Community Partners made a $10,000 donation to Special Olympics Chicago and gave out Santa hats to the athletes.

 Participants in Girls-on-the-Run Chicago celebrate the program’s 10th anniversary at a 5K race at Toyota Park in Bridgeview. CPM Community Partners dropped by to make a $500 donation.
Ald. John Pope (10), a Special Olympics athlete, Kevin O’Hara of LAZ Parking, Special Children’s Charities/Special Olympics Chicago Pres. James Sheahan, and CPM Gen Counsel Rahsaan Sales support athletes at the snowshoe and cross-country skiing competition at Mann Park.

CPM Community Partners, the philanthropic arm of Chicago Parking Meters, LLC, contributed more than $50,000 to local charities in 2010. With the goal of primarily supporting youth-focused organizations, CPM Community Partners kicked off in June with a visit to the Elliot Donnelly Youth Center, located in Chicago’s historic Bronzeville community. EDYC is part of Chicago Youth Centers, a network of eight community-based youth centers in underserved areas that provide a range of services for children ages 3-18, including pre-school, tutoring, and recreational activities. EDYC and CYC shared CPM’s $10,000 donation.
    “The highlight of our work with CPM Community Partners is the opportunity to get a closer look at the outstanding work these organizations are doing for the people of Chicago,” says Chicago Parking Meters CEO Dennis Pedrilli. “We’re looking forward to supporting more projects in 2011.”
    In subsequent months, CPM Community Partners made the following donations:
•    $10,000 in September to the National Foundation of Teaching Entrepreneurship, which trains instructors to work in high schools across the city of Chicago, helping young people develop entrepreneurial skills that enable them to start their own micro-businesses.
•    $10,000 in October to the Avon Foundation for Women’s Breast Cancer Crusade, which supports Chicago facilities like Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s Lynn Sage Comprehensive Breast Center and the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center.
•    $10,000 in November to the Greater Chicago Food Depository.
•    $10,000 in December to Special Olympics Chicago, which featured a visit by LAZ Parking’s Kevin O’Hara, dressed as Santa to the Special Olympics’ snowshoeing and cross-country skiing event at Mann Park.
•    Toys for the children and gift bags for the women served by Connections for Abused Women and their Children. Santa and his elves visited the shelter’s holiday party.
    CPM Community Partners launched a pilot program in 2009, donating $500 each to nine Chicago organizations: Casa Central, Girls-on-the-Run, the Greater Chicago Food Depository, Jane Addams Hull House Association’s Emerge Program, La Rabida Children’s Hospital, Metropolitan Family Services’ African American Male Initiative, Mount Sinai Hospital’s Kids Club Holiday Party, the South Side YMCA’s Youth Basketball Association, and the West Side Pastors’ Alliance Turkey Giveaway.


Young participants in the Pine Avenue Performing Arts Center instrumental, vocal, and dance classes set the mood for this year’s Christmas season with a Holiday Extravaganza before a packed house in the Pine Avenue United Church auditorium, 1015 North Pine Avenue in Austin.
Dance Instructor Brittany Gill opened the show with a lively interpretive dance selection, followed by singers and the student dance troupe, Youthful Praise.
Special surprise guest performers were singers Burgandi Cashimer & Dora Washington. Closing the concert were holiday selections by the Pine Avenue Performing Arts Center Band, who brought down the house despite being together for only eight weeks and composed of many musicians who have just recently taken up learning instruments. They are under the direction of Eugene Westmoreland.
For information on the free courses in drama, singing, dance, and instrumental music at Pine Avenue Performing Arts Center, call Charley Johnson at 773/626-2528. Classes meet at 1015 North Pine Avenue every Saturday beginning at 9:00 AM.


    Jodira Goss
    Ahja Marshall
    Jada Marshall
    Aniyah McCline
    Ariel McMahon
    Brandon Harris
    Catorie Ross
    Aliyah Ward
    Tanaja Bowen
    Brittany Gill, Dance Instructor
    Eugene Westmoreland, Band Director
    Billye Biles, MC
    Burgandi Cashimer & Dora Washington, Guest Performers
    Charley Johnson, President

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


A surprised and delighted Jamila Ward opens Christmas gifts as her mother & Principal enjoy her happiness. (Photo by Brad)

The miracle of the Christmas season was displayed in very human form in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood when families came together to help a little girl recovering from major brain surgery and her family left financially devastated by the health crisis.
    Jamila Ward is a 4th grade student at St. Angela School. With quiet grace and patience, she has struggled through a frightening ordeal. She was diagnosed with a brain tumor and her family was forced to move to Boston for her treatment, including surgery. Her mother quit her job to be with Jamila.
    Doctors are cautiously optimistic, calling Jamila’s surgery a success. Now, she and her family are going about the hardships of putting their lives back together, with the knowledge that all of their savings and resources are exhausted.
    Mary Kay O’Rourke, Principal of St. Angela School, began reaching out on behalf of Jamila and her family. A benefactor stepped forward to pay Jamila’s tuition so she could continue attending St. Angela.
    A bleak Christmas appeared to be in store for Jamila and her family, with no money for gifts. After the tough times she had been through, she didn’t deserve a Christmas without presents.
    Again, two generous families came forward despite never having met Jamila or her family. Patrick and Lisa Kelly and their family joined Josh and Virginia Hale and their family in throwing a surprise holiday party for Jamila and her family at St. Angela’s on the last day of school before the Christmas vacation. Josh Hale is Executive Director of the Big Shoulders Fund that provides scholarships to deserving students to attend Catholic schools in Chicago. The Fund also makes grants to Chicago Catholic schools for special needs and projects. St. Angela has become a favorite school of the Big Shoulders Fund.
    The Kellys and the Hales had gone shopping. During Jamila’s long hospitalization for surgery and follow-up treatment, she had relied upon an interactive Wii system to keep her occupied and her spirits lifted. When she left her Boston hospital, Jamila also left behind the Wii system. Ms O’Rourke told the Kellys and Hales about this. At the party, presents were distributed to a surprised Jamila, her mother Farrah Jackson, brother Cyrus Stokes, and grandmother Irene Jackson.
    As Jamila opened her gifts, one was a Wii game she enjoyed in Boston. Not wanting to appear ungrateful, she thanked everyone for the game but finally admitted she didn’t have a system to play it on.
    “Oh, that’s too bad,” said Virginia Hale as she and her husband presented one last cheerfully wrapped box for Jamila to open. “Let’s see what this is,” Mrs. Hale urged Jamila. Of course, it was the Wii system required to play the game.
    This Christmas will be memorable for the conclusion of a little girl’s terrible ordeal and her family’s darkest financial crisis. But, it will also be remembered as a time when three families met as strangers and embraced as friends to brighten the holiday with hope and good cheer, which is, after all, the real meaning of Christmas.
Jamila Ward, with her brother Cyrus, mother Farrah, and grandmother Irene at the surprise Christmas party thrown for them by St. Angela School. (Photo by Brad)

 Families coming together in the Christmas spirit: The Kellys & the Hales met Jamila & her family for the first time and brightened their lives with holiday gifts. (Photo by Brad)