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.