Friday, November 2, 2012

True Way of Life Community Breakfast

Bishop Willie Benson III & First Lady with the Planning Committee for the True Way of Life Community Breakfast. (Photo by Marilyn Hampton)

Bishop Willie Benson III, Pastor of True Way of Life Church, 3949 W. Lake St., welcomes guests to a Community Breakfast. (Photo by Marilyn Hampton)


Hamlett-Isom C.M.E. Church, 5446 West Division Street, celebrated two milestones in late August: the welcoming of Reverend Eduardo Spragg as their new Pastor, and the 57th Choir Anniversary. Reverend Spragg brings an exceptional teaching and preaching background from his position as Presiding Elder of the Southeast Missouri, Illinois, and Wisconsin Episcopal District of the C.M.E. Church. In addition, Reverend Spragg has served for 23 years as a Chaplain in the U.S. Armed Services. He carried God’s Word as a missionary in countries around the world.

Coinciding with the arrival of Pastor Spragg to Hamlett-Isom C.M.E. Church was the congregation’s celebration of its Music Ministry under the leadership of Minister Francis Haggins, and the 57th Anniversary of the church choir, under the direction of Shirwan Dye, with organist Louis Marshall and percussionist Randell Montgomery. Guest churches at the anniversary celebration were: Jubilee C.M.E. Church, St. Andrew’s M.B. Church, and Bray Temple C.M.E. Church.

Rev. Robert Lockett, 19th Anniversary!

The congregation of New Greater True Light M.B. Church, 5401 W. Chicago Ave., recently saluted Rev. Robert Lockett & his First Lady on his 19th anniversary as Pastor. (Photo by Marilyn Hampton)

Smile for Change

Dedicated volunteers with SMILE for CHANGE enlisted the support of Rolling Clean Car Wash & Detailing, 5817 W. Corcoran Place, who donated a portion of each carwash to a fund to K.O. breast cancer and aid Monica Phillip. To contribute, log onto: (Photo by Brad)


By Tanya Harris

Tia Norfleet, the only African American female professional race car driver on the NASCAR circuit and daughter of famous auto racer Bobby Norfleet, made a special guest appearance at the 5th Annual Route 66 Historic Car Show presented by Lawndale Christian Development Corporation.
Norfleet, 25, has been licensed to race since 2010, but has been surrounded by cars and part of the racing world all her life with her famous father, auto racer Bobby Norfleet. She talked about her struggle to attract sponsors because of her refusal to sign with an alcoholic beverage company.
Tia spent the day talking with children and local residents about her life and career, accompanied by her proud father.


The Austin Branch Library, 5615 West Race Avenue, held an Open House October 10 to officially dedicate its new Children’s Section. The festive event for parents, area school teachers, and especially kids, featured story time with Children’s Librarian Shelley Hughes reading books and directing children in a variety of activities related to the stories being read.

Hughes has been on staff at the Austin Library since March, after five years at the Roosevelt Branch on Taylor Street. She directed the reorganization of the entire Children’s Section, including moving all children’s books into the main Children’s Reading Room and lowering bookshelves to more convenient heights for young readers. All out-of-date reference works and books in poor condition were removed and replaced.

The purpose of the Open House was to show off the new facilities and make parents and teachers aware of the library’s services and programs for young people. Ms Hughes set up activity stations at the Open House, including Worm Races (a tracing game for young children), bookmaking, Fall Word Search, If You’re a Monster and You Know It (making foam rubber monsters), story time, and refreshments.

Among the library’s staff for young people is Mr. Williams, a former Chicago Public Schools teacher who is a specialist in math and science. He is the Certified Teacher in the Library, providing homework help and assistance with science projects. He is available at the library Monday through Thursday, 3:00 PM to closing.

In addition, the library offers the No Commitment Book Club for young people ages 9-14. They meet once a month and kids can participate whether they have read the featured book or not. For meeting times and the book being discussed, see Ms Hughes.
There is a Book Nook with comfortable chairs away from the bustle of the Children’s Reading Room for people to study and read without distractions. An After School Art Project is offered in the activity room for children 7-14 years old. The library has computers dedicated specifically for children’s use.

Pre-School Story Time is offered free for children ages 3 to 5 and their adult caregivers on Thursday mornings in November and December at 10:30 AM. Register in person at the library or call 312/746-5038. Mother Goose on the Loose is provided free for infants and toddlers on Saturday, November 3 and December 1 & 15, at 10:30 AM for children to age 5 with adult caregivers. It uses music, movement, and nursery rhymes to introduce pre-literacy skills to young non-readers. Register in person or by phone at 312/746-5038. JoAnne Grant is the Branch Manager of the Austin Library.


Pastor Cy Fields with his wife and two daughters celebrate his 11th pastoral anniversary at New Landmark M.B. Church, 2700 West Wilcox. (Photo by Marilyn Hampton)

Special guest speaker for the service celebrating Pastor Cy Fields’ 11th anniversary leading New Landmark M.B. Church is Pastor John L. Belsen, Sr., of First Baptist Church of Melrose Park, Florida. (Photo by Marilyn Hampton)


Dr. Johnny L. Miller Leads Revival

Rev. Willie Southworth, Pastor of True Story M.B. Church, 4211 W. Division St., & First Lady Marsha welcome Rev. Dr. Johnny L Miller, Pastor of Mt. Vernon Baptist Church, to lead a revival. With them are Rev. Thomas Woods & Rev. Rushell McElroy. (Photo by Marilyn Hampton)


U.S. Bank’s Nov. 16 Austin Bail Out Leaves Fewer  Neighborhood Financial Options

Saturday, October 13, 2012 Community Rally & Press Conference To Express Consumer Concerns

Banking is big business - - but apparently, according to U.S. Bank - - just not on the city’s west side in Austin. Perhaps you’ve heard the news? They are officially ‘bailing out’ on Austin - - and right before the holidays, and as of the effective date of November 16, 2012, the U.S. Bank branch at 4909 West Division will forever shut its doors to the community. 

Why? That is among the many questions I and many others are still waiting to be answered. 

On Saturday, October 13, 2012, at 12:00 noon, I joined forces with the Northwest Austin Council and the South Austin Coalition, local clergy, residents, seniors and others to oppose the upcoming scheduled November 16th closing of the Austin branch of U.S. Bank, which for a few more weeks, is located at 4909 West Division. 

When I first learned about the possibility of the closing, I immediately sprang into action to determine what could be done to avert this situation, saving jobs and needed services, at the urging of my constituents. While I was not contacted directly by the financial institution before word spread throughout the community, I stood in support of the community’s desire to retain this financial institution in the area.

U.S. Bank is the nation’s fifth largest financial institution, with over $353 billion in assets, and the closure of this facility will drastically reduce the available services for many of our most vulnerable groups - - -  especially seniors, homeowners, working  families,  as well as local businesses, churches and organizations whose accounts were held at the U.S. Bank Austin branch. 

Many strong activists and elected officials fought too hard to bring banking services to Austin over the years to just let them fade way now due to some obscure corporate policies. We must fight for our dignity. 

That’s why we march and rally, before holding a community press conference to address our concerns about the abrupt  plans to shutter this convenient banking outlet for many local seniors and home owners in the neighboring area. 

This appears to be a prime example of community disinvestment, and worse, evidently shows a major lack of respect for the customers who embraced their entry into the Austin neighborhood several years ago. 

The 37th Ward Service Office is OPEN AND READY TO SERVE YOU during regular business hours, so feel free to call 773-745-2894 or stop by Monday-Thursday, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., and Fridays, 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. and Saturdays, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon. Thank you! 

Need a service or have a question? Contact my ward office at 773-745-2894, or send an email:

Gang Infested Townhouse Torn Down

The block of dilapidated and gang-infested townhouses along Washington Blvd. east of Pine Avenue has finally been torn down after decades of complaints from surrounding homeowners. (Photo by Brad)


Representatives of Sarah’s Inn accept a $1,000 Champion Grant from Bernard D. Headley II & Janel Morales of Community Bank of Oak Park River Forest for services to victims of domestic abuse and violence.

Community Bank of Oak Park River Forest has awarded a Champion Grant to Sarah’s Inn. The bank’s Champion Grants assist organizations in providing community outreach programs for low and moderate-income individuals.

The mission of Sarah’s Inn is to stand with victims of domestic violence and their children. Sarah’s Inn serves Chicago’s West Side and 22 near west Cook County suburbs. It is dedicated to providing services addressing the myriad issues of domestic violence.

While offering support and advocacy to clients and their families, Sarah’s Inn provides resources so victims are able to rebuild their lives free from violence. Programs provided by Sarah’s Inn include women’s advocacy support, legal assistance, partner abuse intervention, residential placement, and family art therapy. Information about Sarah’s Inn and its services is available on their website at

A Champion Grant in the amount of $1,000 was presented to Regina Botterill, Executive Director of Sarah’s Inn. Also accepting the grant on behalf of Sarah’s Inn were Juliet Yera, Development Director, and Laura Hunneswell from the board of directors. Bernard D. Headley II, Community Lending Specialist for Community Bank of Oak Park River Forest, and Janel Morales, Retail Banking Officer, presented the grant.

Through the Champion Grant, Community Bank of Oak Park River Forest encourages growth and support in economically challenged communities. Champion Grants will be awarded to qualifying organizations throughout the year. The Champion Grant application is available on the Community Bank website:


Children of the 300 block of North Mason showing off their new backpacks, gifts of their neighbors to encourage success in school. (Photo by Brad)

 Mrs. Doretha Stafford, President Emeritus of the 300 N. Mason block, surrounded by the neighborhood children she has known since birth and helped raise. (Photo by Brad)

Big Time Gamblers: Residents of the 300 block of North Mason playing some wild, high-stakes games of BINGO at the block club party. (Photo by Brad)

The 300 North Mason block club has stood together for many years. Residents of the block continued a long tradition of supporting their children and encouraging them to excel. They held a festive, end of summer block party and gave out 75 backpacks to neighborhood children returning to school.

Doretha Stafford, at 80 years old, is President Emeritus of the block and hasn’t lost any of her fire or drive. Mary H. Austin, another longtime leader, was Coordinator of this years block party, with current block club President, Mrs. Alice Jackson, and Refreshments Planner, Mrs. Minnie Jordan.