Stories

March Action Council Meeting

March Action Council Meeting

On Thursday, March 28, 2019 over 170 community members, Parent Mentors, individuals from member institutions, SWOP staff, and friends of SWOP entered the basement of Holy Cross Hospital to represent their neighborhood and share their concerns for their blocks, churches, schools, and other organizations. SWOP opened its quarterly action council with SWOP leaders speaking on diverse issues from immigration to youth engagement. SWOP’s executive director, Jeff Bartow, provided an opportunity for community members to learn about each other’s values and…

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Mayra Sarabia: Inspiring Change in Our Community

Mayra Sarabia: Inspiring Change in Our Community

For some people, every day is just living out a routine, but for Mayra Sarabia, every day is beautiful. She tells us, “Life is beautiful, I’m alive and I can do a lot of things. I’m blessed to be able to open my eyes. For a lot of people, it’s routine, but for me [each day] is an opportunity.” Mayra Sarabia, who has been a SWOP leader for the past 12 years and is currently a member of the SWOP…

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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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