Stories

After a Great Run at SWOP, Andrea Ortez Moves On.

After a Great Run at SWOP, Andrea Ortez Moves On.

Andrea Ortez, most recently leading SWOP’s Parent Mentor Program, is leaving to take on education work in the south suburbs.  Andrea came to SWOP in 2008 as a Loyola student looking to make a difference in a community.  She definitely accomplished that goal.  Over her years at SWOP, she worked on Teen REACH, VOYCE, Reclaiming Southwest Chicago, community safety, and the Parent Mentor Program.  Andrea brought life and fun, and occasional baked goods, to the SWOP office.  She will be…

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Ready to Become a U.S. Citizen?  SWOP can help!

Ready to Become a U.S. Citizen?  SWOP can help!

On Monday, July 17th, SWOP will host our next U.S. Citizenship workshop.  SWOP staff and volunteers, working with staff from Instituto del Progresso del Latino, can help you complete your paperwork and file your application for citizenship. With funding from the State of Illinois’ New Americans Initiative and IDHS, SWOP has co-led five different workshops over the past six months where over 450 people were helped to fill out their citizenship application. You must have an appointment to participate.  Please…

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It’s Summer Time, Let The Fun Begin

It’s Summer Time, Let The Fun Begin

July and August will be busy times for young people and their families in Chicago Southwest.  That’s because SWOP will be hosting a number of safe and fun activities throughout the community. Starting July 11th, SWOP will kick off a weekly series of Hoop in the Hoods tournaments at Morrill Elementary and Gage Park High School.  At Hoops, teams of young people from the community will learn basketball and teamwork skills as they compete against each other and prepare for…

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Reclaiming Southwest Chicago Fundraising Campaign Kicks Off

Reclaiming Southwest Chicago Fundraising Campaign Kicks Off

More than 500 community residents and stakeholders gathered on Thursday, May 25th at St. Adrian Church to kick off the Reclaiming Southwest Chicago Fundraising Campaign.  The event, led by SWOP and United Power leaders, celebrated the past success of the initial phase of the Reclaim campaign and laid out the plans and goals for future work. The meeting started with Fr. Tom from St. Adrian and Fr. Tony from St. Rita welcoming the group and leading a prayer for the…

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SWOP Leaders Rally in the Rotunda

SWOP Leaders Rally in the Rotunda

Early on April 25th, 150 SWOP leaders boarded buses and travelled to Springfield to engage with elected officials.  While there, they spoke about the impact the Teen REACH program has on young people, how Parent Mentors are helping improve schools, and how we need to secure the rights and dignity of all people, including immigrants. Keana Lindo spoke about how she lost her apartment when her landlord was foreclosed on.  She was able to move back to Chicago Lawn when…

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Chicago Southwest Quality-of-Life Plan Maps Road to the Future

Chicago Southwest Quality-of-Life Plan Maps Road to the Future

When SWOP first brought together Chicago Southwest leaders in late 2015 to evaluate their old Quality-of-Life plan and start work on a new one, there was a lot of energy in the room. Leaders who had been involved in the planning more than a decade ago were excited that they had accomplished almost every single thing they had set out to do in the old plan. Newer leaders who were just beginning their first broad community planning process were excited…

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Become a citizen now or help someone to do so!

Become a citizen now or help someone to do so!

By Adriana Velazquez One of the many ways we can build power as a community and protect our families is to help eligible families become citizens.  SWOP is proud to be part of the New Americans Initiative which leads state wide outreach, education, and application processing citizenship efforts. So far, SWOP has led two citizenship workshops on the southwest side of Chicago and are already planning our next one!  The next workshop, where we hope to help over 100 Illinois…

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Elideth Hernandez profile

Elideth Hernandez profile

Marquette School of Excellence on the southwest side of Chicago is a school where a lot of things can go wrong.  The student body is low income, academically challenged, and split almost evenly between African-Americans and Latinos.  But Elideth Hernandez has worked hard to make sure things go right; both at the school and in the community. Elideth, an immigrant herself, has fought to make Marquette a safe space for other immigrant families.  Long before the Chicago Public Schools announced…

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A New Face and New Roles for SWOP

A New Face and New Roles for SWOP

SWOP bids a fond farewell to Joel Rodriquez.  Joel spent several years doing great work with the VOYCE program at Gage Park High School.  So good in fact that the principal asked him to join the staff at the school.  Joel will be working with parents and students at the school and will be primarily focused on recruiting new students to Gage Park.  We look forward to working with Joel a lot in the future. Jamillah Rashad is leaving the…

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Parent Mentor Convention Highlights Important Role Parents Play in Building Dream Schools

Parent Mentor Convention Highlights Important Role Parents Play in Building Dream Schools

On Friday, March 17th, more than 650 parents from across the state come together to celebrate their work, learn new skills, and hear from Sen. Tammy Duckworth.  As the convener of the Parent Mentor Program, SWOP staff and leaders planned and executed the event along with other staff and leaders from the 14 other Parent Mentor partner organizations. Led by Andrea Ortez, organizers Maggie Perales and Adriana Vasquez along with Parent Mentor coordinators Carolina Rivera, Mayra Sarabia, Eugenia Flores, and…

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