The Illinois Chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architects (I-NOMA) has chosen the SALUD Center Teen Drop in Space for their Design Build program. The program allows teens to actively design and build a space, and interact with professionals from the architectural world. “We are ecstatic to partner with I-NOMA to allow our community’s youth to design and be invested in their own Drop-in Center. Having an architectural background, I think it’s important for our kids to be able to design their own world.” said Angela Hurlock, Claretian Associates Executive Director.
Youth will design the entire Drop-in Center from color to furniture choices. I-NOMA will oversee the eight-week project. Development Project Coordinator Cory Davis believes this is a great opportunity because “it allows youth to design a space that teens want to utilize. It’s a way for Claretian to provide space for youth to have an interactive learning experience. It will help youth decide if design and architecture are for them.”
Youth have already started the program virtually and will visit the SALUD Center every other week.
Governor Pritzker Visits South Chicago
On September 29, 2021, Governor Pritzker visited South Chicago to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. Angela Hurlock, Claretian Associates Executive Director and Chairperson of Special Service Area 5 accompanied the governor and other elected officials to visit South Chicago businesses along Commercial Avenue.
South Chicago Neighborhood Network Informed Symposium
The fourth annual South Chicago Neighborhood Network Symposium, “Breaking the Cycle of Victimization: Dispelling the Myths of Trauma" is currently taking place virtually. The symposium is a four-day (October 4-7) virtual series with keynote speaker Vaughn Bryant Executive Director of Metropolitan Peace Initiative. Each day of the symposium is being recorded and will be made available.
Family Tech Day
Family Tech Day is October 9, 10 a.m. in the SALUD Center in the gym. Tech Day is a family event with robotics, virtual reality, and other technology activities. It will be hosted by Tech Corps, a Computer Science nonprofit in Ohio that develops science and technology programs for K-12 grades.
Tech Day is geared towards South Chicago third through eighth graders and their families. SALUD Center Manager Ronnie Chester hopes to introduce youth and their parents to tech programming in the Innovation Lab at the SALUD Center. “We hope to expose more youth in the community to the possibilities available with technology.” said Ronnie. He hopes this pilot program can turn into programming for the winter.
South Chicago Senior Housing at the SALUD Center, now has a multi-purpose and gym room for seniors to play bingo and exercise. In a recent survey, seniors had requested more activities.
As a result of the questionnaire for our building partner POAH (Preservation of Affordable Housing), “We went ahead and restarted bingo. The seniors take their bingo very seriously,” said Wendy Steward, Senior Social Services Coordinator. A resident brought Wendy a senior-friendly bingo game, with larger print. Soon bingo will begin in the multi-purpose room of senior housing.
On September 19 our Communities Partnering 4 Peace (CP4P) team participated in an event in South Shore, at the South Merrill Community Garden. On Saturdays, South Shore community members, clean their garden. The CP4P South Shore team engaged with potential participants and distributed PPE.
South Chicago Food and Resource Network
The South Chicago Food and Resource Network, had their September meeting at the South Chicago Urban Growers Collective Farm on 9000 S Mackinaw Ave. The network received a tour of the farm, learned how to grow their own gardens and a participant won a water diffuser.
The South Chicago Food and Resource Network supports local and surrounding communities, food pantries and other organizations, improving nutrition in the community. The network is a collective of food pantries and other organizations that are interested in improving food security and resources in the area. The network is speared by Claretian Associates, Shirley Boreless from and Vanessa Molina from Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish Food Pantry. The network would like to expand to a health initiative in the near future.
Safe Passage Hiring
Safe passage is hiring watchers. If interested stop by to complete an application contact Mustafa Sulaiman at firstname.lastname@example.org
SALUD Center Activities
The SALUD Center will be starting Tot Gym Class and Basketball Open Gym mid October. For more information contact SAULD Center Manager Ronnie Chester at email@example.com
Closing Out Summer Programming
Our final Play Streets Event of the summer was the Health and Wellness Fair, sponsored by the South Chicago Neighborhood Network (SCNN) and community partners. Communities Partnering 4 Peace (CP4P), our violence prevention program, partnered with CPS and Metropolitan Family Services to provide a back-to-school backpack giveaway.
Thanks to the Chicago Public Schools, SCNN provided 100 backpacks, and our partner Metropolitan Family Services also supplied families with 160 backpacks. The COVID-19 vaccine was available through Chicago Family Health Center. In total, 25 vendors attended the health and wellness fair. Tiarra Owen, SCNN Program Manager, hopes the health and wellness fair can be an annual end-of-summer celebration.
Ronnie Chester, Salud Center Program Manager, directed this summer’s Play Street events with School Watchers from the Safe Passage Program. Over 400 in total attended the events. “The community came out as best they could. We had limitations for entertainment because of the pandemic, but we still had a nice turnout,” said Ronnie. The Safe Passage Watchers kept the children engaged at the different play stations and canvassed the nearby blocks for community residents to attend the events.
This was our second year directing, the South Chicago Steel Rides, community bike rides. Four bike rides took place, but a few more were canceled due to weather. Ronnie, being a former Chicago Park District employee, arranged for Besser Park and their youth to participate. Bike riders were able to enjoy their front lake view while riding and at Rainbow beach.
Teen Summer Programming
UNITY Squad finished the last two weeks of its program in person. Many of the students had never met in person before because the first four weeks were virtual. Youth had the opportunity to get acquainted, build friendships, listen to guest speakers, and practice yoga together.
Our partner Yoga Care, taught yoga to the students virtually. This is their third year practicing yoga with UNITY Squad. “Since the South Chicago Neighborhood Network is focusing on mental health and trauma, we want to make sure we are focusing on health in general too,” said Program Manager Tiarra Owens. The youth found it relaxing. The purpose was to teach participants methods to release stress. The yoga class was instructed twice in the gym in-person.
Our Faith Based Nurse, Shonie Purnell, assisted with leadership and team building. One team-building activity was an obstacle course in the gym to teach youth how to problem solve and work together. Another guest speaker was Rev. Damon Smith, a community organizer. He explained that "even at their young age they can become community organizers.”
Another guest speaker was Judge Nicole Colbert-Botchway from Saint Louis, Missouri. She explained how the court system works. Participants asked her questions on her background on becoming a lawyer and later a judge. Judge Colbert-Botchway also spoke about her cases. Many of the youth were very engaged because of their interest in law and advocacy.
Youth participants also watched a presentation from 5-4-3-2-1 Go! Clocc Program from Lurie Children's Hospital on healthy eating and how to become health ambassadors. The presentation focuses on how youth should appropriately portion vegetables, fruit, and dairy. "We always have them speak to the youth so they can learn how to make healthy choices with their eating," said Tiarra.
We were also a host site for MAPSCorps for six weeks. MAPSCorps students used the innovation lab and recorded data based on assets in the community. Students develop a research question and then canvas the community. They are provided with cell phones to upload their findings. Their mapping is geared towards their research question, “What should the priority investment in South Chicago be and where should that investment come from?” Students presented their results at the MAPSCorps Scientific Symposium.
Safe Passage Reinvigorating Students, Hiring for Community Watchers
Mustafa Suliman is the new program coordinator for Safe Passage. Since Chicago Public Schools are back in session, Mustafa is hiring Safe Passage Watchers for the school year. His goal is to have the schools fully staffed by Thanksgiving.
Many applicants are eager to work and “have a vested interest in their community. I interviewed a retired Chicago detective. One of her main goals was to give back to her community,” said Mustafa.
The program has 14 watchers returning. We have added Douglas Taylor school to our Safe Passage school list which includes Burnham Mathematics & Science Academy, James H. Bowen, George Henry Corliss, Myra Bradwell and Arnold Mireles schools.
Safe Passage is an initiative that CPS started, to provide safe passage for children walking to school in neighborhoods that are prone to violence. Safe Passage watchers stand at assigned posts and assist children getting to and from school safely.
Interested applicants can stop by to pick up an application at the SALUD Center, 3039 East 91st Street or contact Mustafa Sulaiman at firstname.lastname@example.org or (773) 734-9181 Ext. 2034
Robyn Kelly Town Hall
Local Congresswoman Robyn Kelly held a community town hall at the SALUD Center. Community residents, seniors and youth from our summer programming had the opportunity to ask Congresswoman Kelly questions. The 10th Ward Alderwoman Susan Sadlowski Garza was also present.
Two months ago, the food distributions were restarted for SALUD Center senior residents in the remodeled community room. Senior Case Manager, Wendy Steward, gives the senior residents a ticket with a time to pick up their food, while practicing social distancing as well. The Greater Chicago Food Depository provides the food for distribution once a month. Wendy is assisted by Claretian Associates board member Alita Tucker and two other volunteers, Gail Spann and Shyvette Williams during the monthly food distributions. Seniors are provided with fresh produce, canned food, and bread. Food that is left is donated to other neighborhood food pantries.
Rest in Peace Compton “Pooh” Jones
It is with sad hearts that we say goodbye to our brother and co-worker Compton Jones, an outreach worker for the CP4P team. In the last year, Compton was not only a great asset but a wonderful team player, who looked out for others and was glad to use his skill set to change the neighborhood. As one of our older and more seasoned staff, he brought wisdom and “real talk” to the table while helping his participants seek more out of life. As Claretian Associate’s Street Outreach Program has expanded, matured and taken on greater professionalism over the years, our ability to take care of our staff has matured too. It is with bittersweet emotion that we mourned losing our beloved brother yet rejoice that we were able to help support his family through this difficult time. Even in his passing, Compton’s spirit of taking care of others continues! To God be the Glory!
The South Chicago Neighborhood Trauma Informed Symposium
The 4th annual South Chicago Neighborhood Network, Trauma-Informed Symposium will be virtual, October 4 through October 7, 2021. Register here.
Tech Corps Family Tech Day
Join us for Tech Corp next month for hands-on technology, activities and games. Register here.
Advocate Aurora Health and Sertoma Centre will be having a Mental Health First Aid Training at the Salud Center for Emergency Medical Services September 30, 2021. Register here.
South Chicago Steel Rides
Our South Chicago Steel Rides have continued this summer with bikes funded last by Allstate. This year, we continued to have bike rides with the intention of having a healthy and safe summer activity, for South Chicago and surrounding neighborhoods. For six weeks, we had a variety of cyclists join. One neighborhood experienced cyclist, Jesse Chapa, was looking forward to this year's bike rides because he rode last year, “I enjoy bike riding, and it was an option available in my neighborhood and I wanted to take advantage of it.” Jesse, a Southeast resident has been cycling most of his life as a hobby.
Our annual Play Street events have been a success this year again. We close off high crime streets in in South Chicago to provide a fun, healthy, safe summer for the community. This year's entertainment included outdoor Connect Four, Jenga, bean bag toss and a bicycle raffle. Ronnie Chester, the new Salud Center Program Manager, said his goal was “To get as many kids out of their house, for some constructive fun and organized play” this summer.
August 18th on the final day of Play Streets, the South Chicago Neighborhood Network (SCNN) and partners will host a health and wellness fair from10am to 2pm, in the parking lot, of 9108 South Brandon Ave. According to Program Manager, Tiarra Owens, the Faith and Health Initiative committee of SCNN, chose to have the fair because with the pandemic, “the health disparities are the same as before. We wanted to make sure we can continue to provide resources to our community, so it won’t be hit so hard against the new variant of COVID-19.”
A COVID-19 Vaccination Van, from Chicago Family Health Center, will be available.
Summer programming for UNITY Squad started in July virtually with the first four weeks and the last two in person. This year marked four years since UNITY Squad was established. In partnership with One Summer Chicago, students are employed to learn in a series of modules, focused on leadership development, mental health and wellness, trauma-informed, work force preparedness, and civic engagement. Students complete a series of activities, and earn badges on skills they have learned.
During the summer, two instructors Alycia Evans and Brandon Young spear head the program. Although virtual learning can be challenging, students have the chance to practice yoga once a week. Students will have the opportunity to meet Congresswoman Robin Kelly this summer.
The program has expanded from summer participation during the whole academic year. Brandon, the all-yearlong UNITY Squad Instructor, says the best part of working with the students is the challenge of guiding and directing youth from different backgrounds, “I like being able to share experiences, information, and knowledge that is out there.”
Claretian Associates received a $75,000 grant from the Chicago Community Trust to assist with development of a new Café for the community.
We will be starting construction on two new flats focused on families working their way towards homeownership.
Recently our Case Managers have restarted monthly resident senior bingo, which was put on pause because of the social distancing. Case Manager Jessica Cortez, decided to resume bingo due to social isolation, “their health was deteriorating.” Before summer ends, a few bingo games will be outside with hotdogs and hamburgers. At least once a month Jessica has a senior activity taking place. Senior trips to Walmart or Pete’s Fresh Market have also restarted.