Stories

Senior Staff Profile: Rafi Peterson

Senior Staff Profile: Rafi Peterson

Rafi Peterson, a long-term SWOP staff and community leader, has roots that run deep in Chicago Lawn. Rafi’s initial connection to Chicago Lawn was through the Inner-city Muslim Action Network (IMAN), where he served as a board member for many years, starting in 1998. Rafi knew that he wanted to see a change in his neighborhood and begun conversations with community members and in particular youth. He started working within the CeaseFire program, now known as Cure Violence, with the…

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SWOP’s Citizenship Campaign: Lending a Hand to Our Neighborhood Families

SWOP’s Citizenship Campaign: Lending a Hand to Our Neighborhood Families

SWOP has an ongoing citizenship campaign to protect our immigrant families and to build power within our community by informing and accompanying legal permanent residents on their path to become citizens. This year, SWOP is collaborating with six other organization including Instituto del Progreso Latino, Latino Organization of the Southwest, Mujeres Latinas en Acción, Centro de Trabajadores Unidos, Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, and Casa Michoacan to bring monthly citizenship workshop events to the neighborhoods of Chicago. This effort is funded…

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SWOP Celebrates the Holidays

SWOP Celebrates the Holidays

More than 250 people representing SWOP’s 38 member institutions came together on December 13th to celebrate the holidays.  They met in the cafeteria at Maria Catalyst School where they shared food and conversation and appreciation for all the work they had done together over the past year. Sister Margaret from the Sisters of St. Casimir kicked off the event with a prayer and Adriana Velazquez of the SWOP staff followed with an overview of the year’s accomplishments.  Natalia Robles discussed…

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Building a Southwest System of Care

Building a Southwest System of Care

Understanding that there is a great need for behavioral health services in the community, SWOP is beginning implementation of the Southwest System of Care (SWSOC).  With support from the Illinois Children’s Healthcare Foundation and in partnership with Holy Cross Hospital, Ada S. McKinley, Catholic Charities, Esperanza Health Centers, IMAN, and Metropolitan Family Services, SWOP has begun to use a community organizing model of relationship building to bring together these institutions with local schools.  The goal of this work is to build…

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Chase volunteers and Chicago Cares help Reclaim Southwest Chicago

Chase volunteers and Chicago Cares help Reclaim Southwest Chicago

On Friday, November 2nd, 20 employees from JPMorgan Chase came to Southwest Chicago for a hands on service day.  The employees, some of whom live in the community, work all over the Chicagoland area and were looking for an opportunity to give back to the community.  They spent time in the 6400 block of south Maplewood working to clean out debris from one building to get it ready for rehab and to help with construction related tasks at another building. …

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SWOP’s New Adler Data Intern

SWOP’s New Adler Data Intern

SWOP is pleased to welcome Robbi Wiggins as the new Adler University Data Intern.  Robbi lives in the community and is a graduate of Ball State University.  In her role as Data Intern, she will be collecting and analyzing data on participation in SWOP events, helping with the regular housing vacancy survey for the Reclaiming Campaign, and researching data on neighborhood improvement.  Robbi is interested in working in the area of juvenile justice when she graduates from Adler.  This is…

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Staff Changes at SWOP

Staff Changes at SWOP

It’s in with the old (or at least familiar) and in with the new at SWOP these days.  Joel Rodriguez rejoins SWOP after being away for a couple of years.  While away from SWOP, he was working on community engagement at Gage Park High School.  Joel will lead SWOP’s youth leadership development work.   Amanda Reilly joins SWOP as a new organizer.  She comes to SWOP from Pennsylvania where she worked as a social worker.  Amanda is working on the…

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Nightingale Workshop

Nightingale Workshop

By Ana Laura Narro Last Wednesday, October 17, Nightingale Parent Mentors had a workshop for “Parents of Children with Special Needs” by the Parents4Teachers group open to the community. In this workshop attendees learned about their rights as parents and how to advocate for their children who have special needs. The workshop was attended by around 50 people, among whom were parents from other schools such as Edwards and Hurley. At the end of the workshop, 4 mothers had individual…

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SWOP Wins Sustainable Community Schools Funding For Morrill

SWOP Wins Sustainable Community Schools Funding For Morrill

SWOP recently received word from the Chicago Public Schools that it will be a recipient of Sustainable Community Schools funding for its work at Morrill Elementary School.  SWOP staff people Jasmine Serrano and Joel Rodriguez are partnering with Principal Dawn Sydnor-Cole to implement expanded and new out-of-school time programming at the school. Parents, school staff, partners from Metropolitan Family Services (MFS), and SWOP staff are spending the week of August 20th in training provided by CPS.  At the end of…

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SWOP Parent Mentor Program Expands

SWOP Parent Mentor Program Expands

With support from the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and the Chicago Public Schools’ Community Schools Initiative (CSI), SWOP is expanding the Parent Mentor Program to four new schools.  The new schools in Southwest Chicago that are implementing the program are Hampton, Edwards, Hurley, and Christopher.  Parent Mentor organizers are busy right now recruiting coordinators and parents for the expansion effort. This exciting development was made possible when ISBE increased the Parent Mentor Program budget from $1.4 million last…

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