Stories

Solidarity Soup Supports SWOP’s Work with Immigrants

Solidarity Soup Supports SWOP’s Work with Immigrants

On Tuesday, March 7th, a group of well known chefs came together to support work with the immigrant community by selling soup.  Led by Bruce Sherman of North Pond, the chefs produced and sold soup at four locations across the city and in Evanston.  Each person who placed an order received two pints of soup along with the good feeling that comes with knowing they were helping out people with immigration issues. The Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP), along with Centro…

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SWOP Wins Power of Community Award at CNDA

SWOP Wins Power of Community Award at CNDA

More than 1,500 people gathered at McCormick Place to see the Southwest Organizing Project win the Woods Fund of Chicago’s Power of Community Award.  The occasion was LISC Chicago’s Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards (CNDA) 23rd annual ceremony.  SWOP won for its Reclaiming Southwest Chicago campaign; an effort to organize and rebuild a target area in the Chicago Lawn community. For more than a decade, the area between 59th ST. and 63rd ST., Rockwell and California had been targeted by unscrupulous…

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Bringing Furniture and More to Chicago Lawn

Bringing Furniture and More to Chicago Lawn

A little more than a year ago, Rafi Peterson and Mary Beth Herr sat down for a one on one meeting in the basement of St. Rita’s Church on 63rd ST.  Fr. Tony Pizzo hosted them as part of a United Power for Action and Justice meeting that brought them together as a way to build relationships and power between city and suburban dwellers.  At first, it might not seem like they had much in common, but through their conversation,…

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SWOP Partners to Provide ESL Classes

SWOP Partners to Provide ESL Classes

SWOP is again partnering with Gage Park High School and Instituto del Progreso Latino to provide English as a Second Language classes for community residents.  The free classes begin on Monday, March 6th. To participate, you need to register and take a placement test.  Registration will take place on Tuesday, February 28th from 10:00 – 11:30 a.m. at Gage Park High School, 5630 S. Rockwell, room 218.  Be sure to bring an id and proof of address.  Participants will also…

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Coming Out of the Shadows

Coming Out of the Shadows

When Sue (all the names have been changed) joined the SWOP Parent Mentor program she had no idea it would end up having her stand next to the Governor of the State of Illinois as he signed a law giving her, and many others in her situation, the right to have a driver’s license. Like many mothers in her situation, she had been devoted to her kids and family, but always stayed in the shadows. Not because she was shy,…

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How Do You Reach Young People? With Teen REACH.

How Do You Reach Young People? With Teen REACH.

By Jasmine Serrano Several years ago, SWOP was looking to expand its work with young people in schools. SWOP wanted to go beyond providing after-school programming to begin to build youth leaders for the community. That’s when SWOP discovered the Teen REACH program. In Chicago Lawn, SWOP’s Teen REACH effort began at Fairfield Elementary in the 2008 – 2009 school year, and was moved to Morrill Elementary in the 2009 – 2010 school year; where it has remained ever since. …

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What Do Hundreds of People Do When It’s Cold Outside: They Come to the SWOP Holiday Party

What Do Hundreds of People Do When It’s Cold Outside: They Come to the SWOP Holiday Party

While the temperatures outside were well below freezing, the mood was warm and happy inside Maria Catalyst High School on Thursday evening, December 15th.  Hundreds of SWOP leaders from community institutions across Chicago Southwest came together to celebrate the holidays.  There were lots of holidays and traditions to celebrate as the crowd represented the diversity of the community: Catholics and Protestants, Muslims, and Jews; African-Americans, Latinos, and whites; and, young people and more mature folks. Like most holiday parties, there…

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SWOP Parent Mentors Are Making a Difference in Chicago Southwest Schools

SWOP Parent Mentors Are Making a Difference in Chicago Southwest Schools

Everyone in the field of education always talks about the need for more parent involvement in schools. SWOP is doing something about this with the Parent Mentor Program. Through this effort, SWOP recruits parents, mostly mothers, but there are some fathers, to work in classrooms in their children’s schools. The Parent Mentors work in a classroom (but not their own child’s room) for two hours a day, four days a week. On Friday, the fifth day, they spend time in…

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SWOP Leads Police Accountability Discussion

SWOP Leads Police Accountability Discussion

More than 160 community residents packed the auditorium at Catholic Charities’ Sisters of St. Casimir Motherhouse on Tuesday, November 15th to talk about an important issue to the Chicago Southwest community; police accountability. Led by Imelda Salazar and Rafi Peterson, the group heard testimony, reviewed facts, and met with neighbors one on one to learn about each other. Most important, the large gathering broke into small groups to develop ideas for improving both police accountability and community/police relations. The collection…

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Now, More Than Ever, Organize

Now, More Than Ever, Organize

It is safe to say that almost everyone was surprised by the results of the Presidential Election on November 8th. To many in Chicago Southwest, that surprise was not a happy outcome. President-Elect Trump’s comments on immigration, crime, banking legislation, and many other issues are in direct conflict with the work of SWOP and its partners. What to do about that? The answer is easy, don’t mourn, organize. In a time of increasing partisan rancor, name calling, and disdain for…

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