by Dwayne T. Ervin
Gloria Gayle, vice president and branch manager of National City Bank, on 8700 S. Cottage Grove, and Vernon Harrington, general manager of Best Buy at 87th and Lafayette Ave., were recently appointed as board members of Chatham Business Association (CBA). With Gayle’s experience in finance and Harrington’s experience in retail sales, they both hope to have a positive impact on the CBA.
Gayle is a DePaul University graduate and working towards her MBA at Purdue Calumet. With over 20 years banking experience, her management experience includes an assignment in East Chicago Indiana, which is a similar market to the Chatham community.
Gayle has also worked for Fifth Third as a business banker, a manager for ABC Bank in Chicago and First Suburban National Bank in Maywood, IL. She has extensive experience in successfully penetrating and improving urban markets. She is married and has two adult children and two grandchildren.
Gayle joined CBA after the ribbon cutting of the National City Bank branch at 8700 S. Cottage Grove on April 14. “My goal is to educate through a financial literacy standpoint,” Galye said. “Some people have been shut out of the community.”
She wants CBA to focus on decreasing crime in the community. “There is a need to do something to stop the crime,” she said.
Harrington is a general manager at Best Buy on 87th and Lafayette Ave. He graduated from Chicago Vocational High School and grew up in the South Shore area.
Harrington has worked in retail management for 13 years. Prior to Best Buy, Harrington worked at Lowes Home Improvement and in the Sam’s Club division at Walmart. He has been a manager for Best Buy for 3 and ½ years.
Harrington joined CBA to build a network with Best Buy on the south side of Chicago when he became general manager. He has been a member of CBA for a year and a half. He worked with CBA Juniors at the second annual youth job fair at ICE theaters recently where he introduced the companies who were offering summer jobs.
Harrington wants to prepare youth for employment through programs with CBA Juniors. “We should work on a shared vision,” he said. “One individual cannot do it all by themselves. It is up to all of us to be on the same page and to keep growing together.”
Harrington plans to bring a stronger community focus to CBA and to help members strengthen their businesses.
With the high rate of Chicago Public School children killed this school year, Father Pfleger, Pastor of St. Sabina Church, has put the American Flag upside down on a pole outside of St. Sabina Church and School on 7801 S. Throop to bring national attention to over 35 children killed by gun violence.
According to a letter from Father Pfleger, emergency steps were taken around the country to respond to the swine flu, but “Why can’t we have the same kind of national consciousness about gun violence” Pfleger asked? “In the last couple of weeks, we saw this national consciousness and direction about the swine flu. Every school was given information and what to talk about. Every city and state was being educated about it…
“The issue of violence is a complex issue. We have got to be as aggressive about this [gun violence issue] as we are about the swine flu,” he said.
“There is a lot of finger pointing where people are blaming the parents, police, and the government,” he mentioned. Banning assault weapons and teaching conflict resolution on a regular basis offer some solutions, he added. “We need to look at the positive alternatives for young people,” he said.
Pfleger, who received mixed reviews about the upside down flag, with some calling him unpatriotic and with others supporting him, said he’s urging everyone in the community to hang the American Flag upside down in protest against gun violence.
“We have to know where our children are and who they are with. People need to check their homes and make sure no one is hiding a gun in it. Communities need to send a message. If you shoot and kill, you are an enemy to this community. We will turn you in to law enforcement. There has to be a standard so that people understand.”
“We have to be as aggressive about this as we are about the flu,” he said. “There is an aggressive approach about swine flu, but we are laid back about children dying.”
Responding to the growing concern over gun violence and children dying, St. Sabina School has begun holding school year round which helps keep students involved in positive activities.
Pfleger suggests gun ownership should be treated like cars that are tracked right from the manufacturer. “Cars are tracked from person-to-person. Why can’t we do that with guns? We can control who gets guns, but we choose not to,” he said.
Community Economic Development Association (CEDA) representatives discussed the importance of weatherization in low-income homes and employment opportunities at Chatham Business Association’s monthly meeting recently.
The members of CBA Juniors put together a video promoting CBA’s role in empowering the youth. CBA Vice Chairman Joseph Caldwell mentioned that members should hire youth at their businesses.
Hermine L. Wise director of procurement of CEDAmentioned the impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and discussed five CEDAprograms including: weatherization, low-income home energy assistance program (LIHEAP), Head Start, Woman Infants and Children (WIC) Program and Workforce and Economic Development (WED).
CEDA has offered Weatherization Services to low-income residents of Cook County for 30 years. The stimulus dollars allowed the organization to add 15 to 25 contractors, provide financial assistance to contractors for specialized equipment, and provide training to contractors interested in specializing in weatherization. New weatherization contracts will begin July 1, 2009.
Wise said CEDA has given to minority businesses. She said they would be building a southeast location in Robbins, IL. Weatherization is expected to increase from 3,500 to 12,000 homes, she said.
John Hamilton director of weatherization at CEDA talked about tripling the number of weatherized homes. President Barack Obama was one of the first presidents to talk about the importance of weatherizing homes, Hamilton said.
To qualify for CEDA’s weatherization services an individual or household must be at 150 percent poverty level with an income below $25,000 a year. Ira Williams director of WED said that people should dress properly for employment. DHS food stamp recipients were sent for employment programs with CEDA.
CEDA WED expects its clients to arrive 15 minutes before all appointments.
Williams encourages employment seekers to learn Spanish. “It will give them a leg up,” he said. He also mentioned the summer youth program in Chicago and suburban Cook County.
Gloria Gayle and Vernon Harrington were added to the CBA board. Gayle is vice president and branch manager of National City at 8700 S. Cottage Grove. Harrington is a general manager at Best Buy on 87th and Lafayette Ave. He wants to target youth by preparing them for employment through CBA Juniors. He also hopes to build strong businesses with CBA. “We should work on a shared vision,” he said. “CBA has given me the opportunity to benefit from networking,” he said.
by Dwayne T. Ervin
Last Saturday, at ICE Theater on 87th Street, 100 youth from seven area high schools attended a second job fair hosted by the Chatham Business Association Juniors in partnership with the Department of College and Careers at Chicago Public Schools.
Letters were sent to Bowen High School, South Shore High School, Harlan Community Academy High School, Julian High School, Chicago Career Academy, Simeon Career Academy and Hirsch Metropolitan High School to tell students about the job fair. However, students from other schools came out seeking job opportunities. The fair was open to students ages 16-18.
Ninety-three of the students attended a job readiness program the week before and seven others went through the readiness program during the week through CBA Juniors.
Employers discussed job opportunities at their companies and told youth how to apply for work with their companies before they presented their resumes.
Chicago Area Project mentioned they needed youth to sign up for jobs in Springfield by May 5 and some other companies invited the students to visit their companies.
Students were told that if their job performance was good, they could continue to work for them during the school year. Students moving on to college in the Chicago area could continue to work for the companies too.
The companies represented were GAG Masonry, Inc., Illinois Department of Employment Security, DC Mad Hatter, Jewel Osco, Chicago Area Project, and Prime America.
The job seekers stood in lines at the tables to give resumes that were reviewed by company recruiters. Some applicants were interviewed for various positions. Most of the students were well prepared based on the job readiness skills workshop they participated in the week before.
More schools were added this year, “the partnership increased, because the students were interested,” said Taheria L. Brown, career development facilitator, at Corliss High School.
by Dwayne T. Ervin
Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) has seen more seat belts use fewer cars on the road, which led to 1,043 fatalities last year as compared to 1,248 in 2007.
The high cost of fuel caused a traffic drop by 2 percent with less traffic. A higher safety belt usage rate, which was 90.5 percent, has caused less people to die on the roads, according to IDOT spokesperson Paris Ervin. The “Click it or Ticket,” program is enforced in Illinois to make drivers aware of their safety by using seat belts in motor vehicles.
“We [IDOT] believe the strong presence of law enforcement in the state has contributed to the [fatality] numbers drop,” said Michael Stout IDOT Division of Traffic Safety Director.
The Operation Teen Safe Driving program is in over 100 schools in Illinois and has helped in a 40 percent reduction in teen deaths from 2007 to 2008. Students in the program are required to identify issues relating to traffic safety in their communities and to implement an awareness curriculum that combats the traffic safety problem in their schools. Selected schools were chosen based on their effectiveness in identifying the problem, creativity of proposals in addressing the problem and the program’s ability to reach teens and the entire community.
According to Stout, the new graduated driver’s license law, which was effective January 2008, increased the number of hours a student had to be behind the wheel. The law increased the amount of hours the students drive with the parents.
Drivers from the graduated program cannot have more than one non-related teen in their cars for their first year of driving. The law for having the permit for nine months causes teens to experience several different conditions of cold, the rain, and ice. Before the law, a driver with a permit would only have to wait three months and it did not matter which three months.
To continue the decline in fatalities, “We will continue our program of ‘Click it or Ticket You Drink and Drive you Lose, Operation Teen Safe Driving Spring and Summer Motorcycle,’ program and continue strong presence of law enforcement to enforce the laws,” Stout continued.
There has been a small decrease in drunk driving. It is our weakest area. “We have not seen the same improvement in those numbers as we have seen in other areas,” he stated. The Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device was introduced in January this year for first time DUI violators.
“We [IDOT] think it is underreported when people have crashes they don’t admit that they were talking on their cell phone or texting somebody,” he mentioned. “It is usually information that people do not provide.”
“We think there are more crashes from distractive driving than what the data shows. Unless it is a fatality, law enforcement is not going to investigate it. It is a problem that we continue to address.
The legislature is working on a law about distractive driving, texting is illegal in Illinois and we support it and hope it passes and the governor signs it.
Senior citizen drivers already have to be tested more often than younger drivers are. Most of our elderly citizens know when they should or should not be behind the wheel.
by Dwayne T. Ervin
The Illinois State Dental Society wants to raise the soda pop tax to 5 percent for Illinois residents who do not have dental insurance.
Raising the tax from 3 percent to 5 percent would generate $46.6 million annually and translates to $91 million in Medicaid spending.
According to Michelle Arnold of Morreale Public Affairs Group, this would affect consumers by improving oral health care by bridging the access to care gap. “This will be achieved by increasing the Medicaid reimbursement rates, opening dental clinics and a dental student loan incentive,” she said.
House Bill 388 creates the Dental Provider Fund where the proceeds from the soda pop tax will be deposited for oral health care projects. The current state funding for dental care in Illinois is 46 percent.
Chicago is the only area in Illinois that charges a soda pop tax and is one of the underserved parts of Illinois in dentalcare.
According to a Bridge For Healthy Smiles fact sheet, soda pop is harmful to teeth on two levels. First, the sugar in the soda feeds the plaque that accumulates on teeth. Bacteria feed off of the sugars and convertsinto acid which causes a breakdown in the enamel. Secondly, soda pop is very high in acid on its own. Citric acid is the most detrimental to enamel.
The fact sheet also states that the typical American drinks 53 gallons of soda pop each year. The consumption of soft drinks has increased 500% in the last 50 years. The erosive potential of colas is 10 times that of fruit juices in just the first three minutes of drinking.
Acids and acidic sugar byproducts in soft drinks soften tooth enamel, contributing to the formation of cavities, according to the fact sheet.
The Bridge to Healthy Smiles coalition, a group of dentists, oral health care advocates and health organizations, tout the latest proposal as a creative way taxpayers can receive the greatest return on their investment.
The Bridge to Healthy Smiles campaign is led by a diverse coalition of oral health care advocates and community groups committed to bridging the access to care gap for dental coverage in Illinois.
“At a time when we are forced to make tough decisions on how to balance our state’s record budget deficit, Illinoisans are losing their jobs and relying on government sponsored dental care as their own safety net for treatment,” said State Representative David Miller (DDolton) in a released statement.
Illinois has among the lowest funding rates in the nation for many dental procedures. Over the last three decades, while finding for government health care programs has decreased, enrollment has risen, forcing critically needed dental clinics to close their doors. Illinois has just one dental clinic for every 8,400 children in governmentinsured programs.
Thousands of patients insured through government health care programs like KidCare and AllKids, are forced to wait months to see a dentist or go without care altogether.
by Dwayne T. Ervin
The summer will not be the same for some Chicago Public School students as more schools are added to Track E, the year-round school program.
Under the Track E calendar, schools open the first week of August instead of after Labor Day. The traditional school calendar has a 10-week summer break. Students enrolled in the yearround Track E program have the same number of school instructional days, but student vacations are interspersed throughout the year into shorter, more frequent breaks.
Last August, the number of Track E schools rose in number from 18 to 41. The Chicago Board of Education in March added another 24 schools to the Track E roster and this month is being presented with a list of another 67 elementary schools seeking Track E status.
According to Franklin Shuftan spokesperson for CPS, the board approved 132 elementary schools in the Track E program. More schools will be added depending on whether additional schools apply for the 2010-11 year. The experience of the past couple of years indicates school communities are increasingly viewing Track E favorably, he said.
“Individual schools do their own outreach and we are likely to do district-wide outreach prior to the August start date,” Shuftan said. “As part of the process in becoming a Track E, principals collaborate with teachers and other stakeholders in the school (parents, local school councils) to ensure a comfort level with the change.”
The Track E program has benefits for students who otherwise would be out of school an entire summer. It allows teachers to more effectively manage time and to design more meaningful lessons plans in shorter bursts, which can contribute to enhanced instructional programming and improved student achievement. It also minimizes teacher burnout by providing for regular and better-spaced time off. Regularly scheduled time off allows for better student and staff attendance, according to a written release from CPS.
“Because it maximizes a student’s opportunity to learn, we have agreed with many of our principals, parents and community leaders to spread their school attendance more evenly throughout the year,” said CPS CEO Ron Huberman in a released statement. “This means that instead of one long summer break, students get several shorter breaks throughout the year, which means greater learning opportunities,” he added.
With over 30 Chicago Public School children killed this school year in incidents resulting in violence, ordinary people are doing extraordinary things and serving as a catalyst for change. From the South Suburbs, to Chatham to Englewood, unsung heroes are making a difference at the grass roots level in Chicago’s neighborhoods.
A small foundation doing big things in South Holland, Dolton and in Roseland, Tomorrow’s Youth Foundation works with 120 young people offering academic, athletic and mentorship programs.
Courtland Wilson, the foundation’s executive director said he tries to make sure extraordinary opportunities are available to children in the community. “There is a need for a youth program out here,” said Wilson. “We work with kids to give them an experience they are not exposed to, to prepare them for adulthood.” Pointing to the role sports play in developing teambuilding skills he said, “Some children look up more to their coaches than their fathers…we are here to mentor them and not to play around.”
Wilson, who grew up on the South Side of Chicago in a fatherless home, draws from his own experiences where he looked up to his coach. He uses that experience to help mentor others. While he works full-time, he does not underestimate the role of volunteers and the need for parent involvement. Running the foundation during his free time, he also finds time to volunteer for Habitat For Humanity.
While the foundation works with young adults all year long, last Saturday the Chatham Business Association (CBA) hosted a job fair preparation workshop for local youth at ICE Theaters at 210 W. 87th Street for students between the ages of 16 and 18. Students got help with finding jobs, writing resumes, researching companies and received tips on preparing for interviews. Julian, Hyde Park Career Academy and Harlan, were among the high schools that participated. On April 25, students who came out to the fair, will be eligible to attend a job fair hosted by Chatham Business Association Juniors, a partnership between the Department of College and Careers at Chicago Public Schools.
Working on Chicago’ South Side, Calvin Lane knows about job readiness and prepares young people for life in general. He helps students find employment at Robeson High School where he works as a student advocate on behalf of students challenged by behavioral issues. “At Robeson, most students see they can do more than hanging on the corner or working for McDonalds…what makes my day complete is to see students become college graduates,” he said.
Most of the families he sees live in Englewood and come from foster care or single-family homes. Lane, who came to Robeson as a youth intervention specialist, said, “We deal with the whole student…the home environment has a lot to do with overall behavior and accomplishments of every individual student.” A former activist, he advises students that the only person they have to be better than is the person they were yesterday.
by Dwayne T. Ervin
Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr. kicked off National Library Week April 12-18 by reading to children at Rainbow PUSH headquarters to support the importance of reading.
Parents and children listened as Keith Feils and Rev. Jackson read to the children. Jackson read, “We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro Baseball,” by Kadir Nelson. The passage he read was about blacks in baseball during the early 1900s who were not allowed to play with whites in Major League baseball.
The 2009 National Library Week theme is, “Worlds Connect @ Your Library.” The week of activities, include the release of the State of the America’s Libraries Report, National Library Workers Day, Top Ten of the Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2008 and the Third Annual Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) Supporting Teen Literature Day.
For Teen Literature Day, teen patients in pediatric hospitals will receive 8,000 young adult novels, audio books and novels.
According to the 2009 State of America’s Libraries report, Americans are turning to their local libraries for services, yet funding for essential resources have declined. According to the report, Americans visited libraries nearly 1.4 billion times and checked out more than 2 billion items in the past year.
Keith Michael Fiels, executive director of American Library Association (ALA) said, “People are also using libraries to find jobs and to get job training. People are finding that they can only apply for jobs online. Libraries have the help people [need] to advance their careers,” he said.
“Literacy is like a light,” said Jackson, who recalled a time when he was in a cab in Los Angeles on his way to the airport. The cab driver was very talkative, he said. “We got to a terminal and the driver kept going…we came around a second time [to the terminal.] Then it occurred to me that he could not read. It was a painful experience to see that,” Jackson said. “Reading is the key to seeing and expanding our world,” he said.
by Dwayne T. Ervin
Video games with violent content and adult themes like the Grand Theft Auto series has a mother of five boys turning back to family friendly games like Frogger and Pac Man.
Adult situation media has influenced youth to mock these images and have caused an increase in youth violence. Games have become more realistic, depicting images with blood and gore, and show disrespect for the law.
Violence in games is causing concern for parents like Angela Campbell, a foster parent of five boys who had to take away Grand Theft Auto from her sons because the game showed a lack of respect for the police and promoted prostitution. Campbell, who mentors teens, works with a parents group where they discuss violence in video games.
“This is why some children are disrespecting police and women,” Campbell said. “I don’t want them to think they can do these kinds of things in life.” Campbell said she is also concerned about her sons playing online with other children they may not know.
Dr. Mitchell Glaser, child adolescent psychiatrist, said there has been an increase in violence in all areas of society. The increase in violence comes from more than just video games,” he stated. “I don’t think a parent should let their children play those kinds of games if the child has a behavioral or emotional problem,” he said. “I think it would increase the likelihood of those things occurring.”
Glaser said violent video games bring the idea of violence to a child’s mind. “It increases the idea that the child would think of it. It would be on their mind more. I don’t think it is a good idea for young children to be exposed to those games,” he said.