Stories

SWOP CeaseFire: Building Relationships and Improving Safety

SWOP CeaseFire: Building Relationships and Improving Safety

Every day at 4 p.m. Andre, Carla, Mirna, and Myra, meet in a storefront on West 63rd ST.  They are there to debrief activity in the community and to make a plan of action for the day of work ahead.  The four are community outreach and violence interrupters for SWOP’s CeaseFire program.  The four of them, along with Rafi Peterson, SWOP’s director of anti-violence programs, are working hard to lower crime and violence in Southwest Chicago. SWOP receives funding from…

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SWOP Citizenship Workshops Help Families Prepare Paperwork

SWOP Citizenship Workshops Help Families Prepare Paperwork

Early on Saturday, March 10, 2018 SWOP staff and volunteers gathered at St. Clare of Montefalco Church. They set up tables and laid out materials as they waited for people to make their way to the Church, a member institution of SWOP. The staff and volunteers were there to host one of SWOP’s monthly Citizenship Workshops.  At these events, SWOP helps applicants complete their N-400 form and other documents they need to apply for Citizenship. On this particular Saturday, 74…

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Now Is The Time To Register To Vote for the March 20 General Election in Illinois

Now Is The Time To Register To Vote for the March 20 General Election in Illinois

SWOP, with support from the Marguerite Casey Foundation’s Equal Voices Campaign, is undertaking a non-partisan voter registration drive and Get Out The Vote campaign.  Two leaders, Azalia Martinez and Stephanie Maltos, are working in schools and faith institutions to find and register new voters and to get people who have not voted in recent elections to come out and vote in the Illinois Primary Election on March 20th.  SWOP’s goal is to register 250 new voters and contact and move…

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DACA Renewal

DACA Renewal

In September, President Trump ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA), putting in jeopardy over 800,000 young people (read SWOP’s response here). On January 9, a federal judge ordered the Federal Government to continue the DACA program.  The question that people continue to ask is, “should I renew my DACA under these circumstances.” At SWOP Legal Services we stand ready to answer your questions, help educate you on your legal options, and process necessary applications.  SWOP is scheduling…

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Reflecting On 20 Years Of Successful Community Organizing.

Reflecting On 20 Years Of Successful Community Organizing.

It is the rare community organization that makes it to 20 years.  It is rarer still when you have leaders who have been there from the beginning and can tell stories about all the work they’ve seen and been a part of.  At this year’s annual SWOP Holiday Party, Sister Margaret Zalot and Betty Gutierrez shared their reflections on what it has been like to be a leader in SWOP for all of its 20 year history. Sister Margaret went…

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Following Her Passion

Following Her Passion

Jamillah Rashad has decided to follow her passion and is leaving SWOP.  Ever since she started at SWOP, Jamillah has told anyone who would listen that she loves early childhood work.  To that end, Jamillah has taken a position with the City of Chicago helping to plan and deliver high quality, early childhood programming. Jamillah started with SWOP over five years ago, working on the Elev8 program at Marquette.  She moved from being an assistant to running the program at…

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Another Great Year, Another Great Holiday Party

Another Great Year, Another Great Holiday Party

On Thursday, December 14th over 300 people gathered in the basement cafeteria of Maria Catalyst High School for a SWOP event; the annual SWOP Holiday Party.  They came out in the cold to celebrate the holidays, to remember 20 years of organizing work, but most importantly, to make connections and build relationships with their neighbors.   At the party, everyone enjoyed chicken from Holy Cross Hospital, pizza from Greater Southwest Development Corporation, lots of homemade dishes from Parent Mentors, and…

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Looking Back To Continue To Move Forward

Looking Back To Continue To Move Forward

Recently, Senior Organizer David McDowell was asked by LISC Chicago to reflect on the first Quality-of-Life planning process and resulting work.  Though the work for that 2005 plan began more than 14 years ago, it has formed much of the basis of SWOP’s work still going on today. Here are David’s thoughts on the process and results: To build a new community, we begin with relationships. Vision[1]: Because we love Chicago Southwest and want to stay here, we envision a…

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Devonta Boston Joins SWOP as Public Allies Member 

Devonta Boston Joins SWOP as Public Allies Member 

It would be hard to say that SWOP is welcoming Devonta to SWOP as he’s been a youth leader with the organization for more than six years.  Devonta first started working with SWOP as a 14 year old freshman at Gage Park High School in the VOYCE program.  In this program, he developed his leadership skills and a strong taste for community organizing.  At VOYCE, Devonta learned about one to one meetings, building power, and taking action to make changes…

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