Friday, May 4, 2012



Brookfield Zoo takes applications to work at the famous animal park. (Photo by Brad)

ComEd was on hand at the 37th Ward Job Fair explaining employment opportunities with the energy giant. (Photo by Brad)

McDonald’s accepts applications from young job seekers. (Photo by Brad)

Madison Construction representatives interview prospective workers at the annual 37th Ward Job Fair. (Photo by Brad)


    “SO YOU THINK YOU CAN’T DANCE,” a participatory movement workshop that is the third event in the EMBRACE THE SPACE program series at St.Martin’s Episcopal Church, will be presented on Sunday, April 29, 2012 from 1:30-4:00pm at 5700 W. Midway Park.
    Founded by Alana Hodges Smith, Dance>Detour, Chicago’s first physically integrated dance company has a philosophy that says “Everyone Can Dance”, and that there is quality in all types of movement – far beyond the typical perspectives and stereotypes that say a dancer must be someone of a particular age, with a certain body type, or uniform style of movement.
    Alana Hodges Smith, founder and artistic director of Dance>Detour, is a disability advocate, vocalist, actor, writer and dancer who promotes the inclusion of artists with disabilities in variety of creative genres. Alana’s motivation for starting Dance>Detour was to develop and encourage artistic collaborations between artists with and without disabilities who could work together to explore dance movement as equals. She strives to expand the concept of what dance IS and WHO can be involved. Alana, who contracted polio at the age of five, has always believed she was born to perform.  She has found that her wheelchair is a beautiful accessory that affords her a unique opportunity to embrace and express dance. Along with Michelle Obama, she received one of ten Phenomenal Woman Awards at The Black Women’s Expo Gala on July 31, 2008.  She is also featured in the newly unveiled edition Of “Who’s Who In Black Chicago,” as an accomplished community leader. 
    A graduate of Columbia College with a BFA in Theater/Music, Ms. Smith has served as Founder and Artistic Director of Dance>Detour since 1995. She received the 2007 “Outstanding Leadership for an Accessible Society” Award from Community Service Options, Inc. and was named one of the “100 Women Making a Difference” in Today’s Chicago Woman Magazine in 1997. In 1998, she was featured in the Emmy Award-Winning PBS television documentary “Dance From the Heart” hosted by Ben Vereen.  Proudly, Alana was crowned Ms. Wheelchair Illinois 2007 and continued on to be crowned Ms. Wheelchair America 2008 – the first African American woman to hold title in the 35-year history of the pageant. 
    In this workshop Alana will introduce movement possibilities that can be shared and enjoyed by folks of all ages with varying degrees of physical abilities. Her varied repertoire embraces many forms of dance from classical - to jazz - to modern - to African that appeal to audiences of all ages and backgrounds.  We invite you to come explore dance with us at this participatory workshop, and GET READY TO MOVE!!!!
    The Embrace the Space series is sponsored by Bodies of Work, a network for Disability Art and Culture at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and St.Martin’s Episcopal Church with funding from The Chicago Community Trust. All are welcomed. Admission is FREE. Reservations Recommended! Snacks & Refreshments Served. Programs are wheelchair accessible, audio described, and American Sign Language interpreted. To RSVP, or request information or disability accommodations, please email or call 312 996-1967.


Theodis R. Leonard, Sr., Franklin P. Leonard, William H. Leonard, Ulysses S. Leonard, Joseph R. Leonard, Jr. and Joseph R. Leonard, Sr. (seated), September, 1956

Theodis R. Leonard, Sr., D. Renee Leonard (Turner), Mrs. Essie Leonard, and Valerie F. Leonard in 1966

Theodis R. Leonard and his wife, Essie Leonard, celebrate the couple’s 50th Anniversary with their children and grandchildren.
    Theodis R. Leonard, Sr., retired Principal of Paderewski School and a vocal community activist in his North Lawndale neighborhood, died at sunrise on Easter Sunday, April 8. He was 78 years old.
    Mr. Leonard was born February 3, 1934, in Slater, Mississippi, to Joseph Richard and Lelia Leonard. He was the fifth of his parents’ surviving children. He graduated from Mileston High School in Chula, Mississippi, in 1953 and enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. He served for four years, attaining the rank of Staff Sergeant. He earned a special commendation for inventing a hand tool to service airplanes. He was honorably discharged in 1957.
    Shortly thereafter, he married his high school sweetheart, Essie Tate, and moved to Chicago’s North Lawndale neighborhood. At the time of his death, the Leonards had been married for more than 54 years. They were among the first African Americans to purchase a home in North Lawndale’s historic K-Town. They raised four children.
    Mr. Leonard enrolled in Crane Junior College and earned his AB Degree in Education. He later received his Master’s Degree in Guidance and Counseling from Chicago Teachers College (now Chicago State University). He later obtained his Type 75 certification to qualify to be a principal.
    Leonard began his teaching career at Gregory School in 1965. He was promoted to Guidance Teacher and Assistant Principal. He mentored younger teachers and former students refer to him as a “father to the fatherless,” crediting him with encouraging them to go into teaching.
    He served as a representative to the Chicago Teachers Union under Robert Healey and Jackie Vaughn. Leonard was instrumental in getting Michael Scott appointed to the Chicago Board of Education. He worked to keep Gregory School open in the late 1980s.
    Mr. Leonard served as Principal of Paderewski School until his retirement in 2001, and was a founding member of the North Lawndale Learning Community.
    Leonard was an active member of Carey Tercentenary AME Church for more than 50 years and served in a variety of capacities.
    Mr. Leonard was also extremely active in civic and community affairs, serving as an informal advisor to elected officials. He was a lifetime member of the NAACP, Retired Teachers Association, and the Principals and Administrators Association.
    Left to cherish his memory is his wife, Essie, also a retired teacher; four children, Renee (Floyd) Turner, Valerie F. Leonard, Theodis R. Leonard, Jr., and Curtis Allan Leonard; brother William Humphrey (Juanita) Leonard; brother-in-law Thomas Stepp; Godson Dr. Raymond H. O’Neal, Jr.; an aunt, L.B. Holmes; 10 grandchildren; eight great-grandchildren; a host of nieces and nephews; special family friend Kyshia Thompson; and many, many friends and former students.
    Funeral services were held April 14 at Carey Tercentenary AME Church.

Jamiah On Fire

Young blues musicians Jamiah On Fire & the Red Machine set the House of Hixson ablaze. (Photo by Brad)

Jamiah On Fire & the Red Machine is greeted after their successful show at House of Hixson by Jamiah’s father Tony, and Skippa Hixson & his father. (Photo by Brad)


    Annie Mae Abrams was born April 20, 1915, in Montgomery, Alabama, the daughter of Payton and Sophie Pruitt, and was raised by her stepmother, Martha Pruitt.
She had three brothers and a sister, all deceased. She was married to Jake R. Abrams on August 16, 1943. He died in 1974.
    Annie was involved in many youth activities. She was one of the first African American graduates of Hyde Park High School and in 1952 received her LPN nursing license from Princeton Vocational School, a part of the Chicago Public Schools. She practiced nursing at the University of Illinois Medical Center and Saint Anthony Hospital.
    Annie became a member of United Faith Tabernacle under the leadership of Pastor Willie Treadwell, now Performing Christ Ministries under Apostle Timothy Treadwell. She was a faithful member of the Mother’s Ministry.
    Mother Abrams was very active and involved in community affairs. She was instrumental in starting two childcare centers in North Lawndale: Sadie Nesbit and Ruthie Ann’s Childcare Centers.
    Annie Mae Abrams died on her 97th birthday, April 20. She leaves to cherish her loving memories four daughters: Audrey (Lennox), Ion, Adair, and Ann (Ernie); and a stepson, Robert; nieces Isabell, Jo Thelma, and Mitty; a nephew Pee Wee; grandchildren Shukura (Hal), Theodore (Coral), Kyle, Scott (Therese), Charisse (Don), Chandra (Melvin), Edrissa, Darian (Dominique), Troy, Brandon (Niela), and Krista. Annie leaves her Homies: Bessie Young, Catherine Henley, and Bessie James to cherish her love. She leaves a host of great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren, great-nieces and nephews, as well as many adopted sons and daughters throughout her long life. She was known lovingly as Mama, Ms Abrams, Annie, Mother Abrams, Mother Blue, Grandma Blue, Grandma, and The Lady with the blue hair. She will be missed by all who knew her, but all of their lives were enriched by the privilege of being a part of hers.


 24th Ward Alderman Michael D. Chandler wants to announce several programs offered by the Chicago Urban League targeted to help develop, promote and qualify minority-owned (MBE), Women Business Enterprise (WBE), and Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBE) for successful careers in general business and the construction trades industry.

“I strongly urge 24th ward business entrepreneurs to take full advantage of the business development assistance programs being offered now by the Chicago Urban League, commented Alderman Chandler. I am committed to making our residents aware of any programs the can create new businesses in the ward and help existing businesses to expand, compete and operate more efficiently to win contracts and opportunities in the public and private business arena,” stated Chandler.

The Chicago Contractor Development Program: This program is designed to develop technical, managerial and other essential entrepreneurial skills that support developers, general contractors, specialty trade construction firms, interior designers and architects reach their next level of business success. The aim of the program is to increase the pool of qualified minority business enterprises (MBEs) and develop more minority firms to Prime status. Classes are free of charge. Companies interested in accessing the services under this program can go to the web address: or call Salena Sizemore at the Chicago Urban League office at (773) 451-3566 for more information.

Entrepreneurship Center NextStep Business Classes: This program provides hands-on experiences that are used to assist entrepreneurs in learning how to write a business plan, forecast financial projections, conduct market research and take the appropriate steps to start or grow an existing business properly. Participants receive One-on-One Business Support Clinics, Network Support Services, and Business Development Technical Assistance. Next schedule of classes are being conducted from May 1, 2012 through August 23, 2012. The classes are conducted Tuesday & Thursday from 6:00pm-8:00pm. Classes are free of charge. More information can be obtained from the Chicago Urban League at (773) 285-5800 or website;

“Information links to these Urban League Programs can also be accessed through my website: I look forward to our residents utilizing these important programs as we work together to promote successful business development and opportunities within the 24th ward,” commented Chandler.


Paul Simon Chicago Job Corps intern Sarah Cooperider and Senior Graphic Designer Jeff Potter work on laying out editions of THE AUSTIN VOICE and THE GARFIELD-LAWNDALE VOICE. (Photo by Brad)
    Sarah Cooperider is the latest Paul Simon Chicago Job Corps Center student to choose to complete her work-based learning requirement at THE VOICE Newspapers. Sarah, a native of Dayton, Ohio, has been studying Graphic Design at the Chicago Job Corps Center since November of 2011. She plans to finish her studies and go out to the working world in June to apply what she has learned. At THE VOICE Sarah typesets and composes the news pages and constructs ads. During April, she has been using her imagination and design skills to create the National Poetry Month pages.
    Sarah applied to the Job Corps because she needed a job. She had been studying Graphic Design at a community college in Ohio and decided to pursue that field. The Paul Simon Chicago Job Corps Center is the only one in the country offering Graphic Design training. She says she was never in a city as large as Chicago, so that was exciting, too.
    “I didn’t even know what Graphic Design was until high school,” Sarah says. “I had always been interested in art and it’s been a lifelong dream of mine to write and illustrate a children’s book.”
    Sarah says, “I have also always been interested in animals, so all through elementary school I wanted to be a veterinarian (like 60% of all kids). In middle school, I started reading a lot of zoology and ecology books from the library. I came upon the book, Never Cry Wolf. I became obsessed with the idea of living with the wolves in northern Canada. My plan was to become an animal behaviorist,” she explains.
    When Sarah took a couple of advertising and design classes in high school, she decided she might have an aptitude for Graphic Design. In addition, the career exploration course she took revealed that all the courses in which she was interested were in visual communications.
    Sarah credits the Paul Simon Chicago Job Corps Center with teaching her what she needs to know about Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, and HTML in her five months as a student. “Pretty soon, I’ll have some certificates to prove it!”
    In addition, Sarah says living at the Job Corps Center has made her more independent. “I didn’t have any family or friends in Chicago when I came here. I’ve had to become less shy and more assertive to advocate for myself,” she observes. “I also feel more confident in my artistic abilities – especially since the Paul Simon Center chose my poster design to represent it in Washington, D.C.”

The Paul Simon Chicago Job Corps Center is one of 125 vocational career training campuses nationwide operated by the U.S. Department of Labor. It is located at 3348 South Kedzie Avenue. The Chicago Job Corps Center offers nine career training courses, including: Carpentry, Painting, Bricklaying, Certified Nursing Assistant, Pharmacy Technician, Materials Handling, Computer Service Technician, Office Practice, and Graphic Design. Training is offered without cost and job placement services are provided. The Job Corps is open to men and women ages 16-24. Dormitory housing is available free to students wishing to live on campus. Meals are provided free, also. Students without high school diplomas are required to take courses leading to graduation or GEDs. These, too, are offered free on center. Free childcare services are also available on center and program graduates can attend Chicago City Colleges tuition-free. For information on applying for admission to the Paul Simon Chicago Job Corps Center, call Beth Allen at 773/890-3131. New students are admitted weekly as space permits and free tours are conducted every Friday. No reservations are required.


Pastor Donald Coleman & First Lady Rosie Coleman of Mt. Carmel Holiness Church, 4800 W. Washington Blvd., greets Bishop Jimmy Clark, Sr. & First Lady Mother Marilyn Clark from Wings of Deliverance Tabernacle, Fort Wayne, Indiana, at the God-Fearing Women’s Conference 2012. (Photo by Marilyn Hampton)

Mt. Carmel Holiness Church Pastor Donald Coleman & First Lady Rosie Coleman welcome Dr. Willie Mae Hankins from Word of Truth Kingdom Church in Jackson, Mississippi. (Photo by Marilyn Hampton)

Poetry Month