BBF Kids Enjoy Firefighter for a Day Event Hosted by the African American Firefighters League

Last Saturday, the African American Firefighters League (AAFL), in conjunction with the Chicago Fire Department, hosted a “Firefighter for a Day” event to give children the opportunity to learn about the career field from a firefighter’s point of view. The event familiarized young potential firefighters with some of the history, practices and procedures of firefighters within the context of local fire departments.

It is much less common to hear children say they “want to be Fire-fighters when they grow up” than it was in days past. The AAFL feels that this is due in part to the fact that children nowadays know very little about firefighting and may not be prepared if and when the opportunity arises to pursue this career path. The AAFL’s goal is to give children an understanding of what is required—education, commitment and pride—to be a Chicago firefighter. As one AAFL member put it, “We realize that we can be very influential in a child’s life not only by what we say, but what we do. As a public relations event, we can maximize this opportunity to instill hope in these children that they, too, could be fire-fighters if they put forth the effort to do so.”

The Firefighter for a Day event enabled the children to really get an understanding of what it is like to be a firefighter. It included several activities geared toward familiarizing the youth with firefighter culture.

Attendees at the event included at-risk and under-privileged children ages 10-15 years old. Their hosts for the day were members of the AAFL, the International Association of Black Professional Firefighters, and the Chicago Fire Department.

In addition to this one time event, the AAFL is conducting a mentoring program at True Light Baptist Church, located on Chicago’s south side. For more information about the AAFL, you can contact them at 773-420-8887 or visit their website at

At BBF, we are always eager to highlight other organizations that are also working hard to make a difference in the lives of inner-city youth. Spotlighted in today’s BBFs blog post is one such organization. As unemployment is one of the most pressing issues facing urban youth, it is great to see an organization that exposes young people to viable career opportunities with good salaries. Let us know what you think about this article or this subject.

Thanks to Pat McGhee for this post.

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Clean and Green Day

This past Saturday morning, April 16th, the Better Boys Foundation participated in the Mayor Daley’s, Clean and Green program. BBF had a group of 20 volunteers that swept the curbsides and sidewalks of Pulaski from 16th street to Roosevelt. Despite the rain and gloomy weather, the group was determined to clean the streets of North Lawndale. Much thanks to the 10th District’s Streets and Sanitation Department and the Police Station for letting BBF use cleaning supplies and tools.This year, North Lawndale’s motto was “U make Lawndale Beautiful. Leave a Legacy; not litter.” BBF will continue to participate in programs that leave legacies and make North Lawndale beautiful. Thanks to Jaleesa Parks for this update!

Check out pictures of this event and so much more at our Flickr page“!

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Sinai Urban Health Institute Quarterly Newsletter

Here is an update from Sinai Urban Health Institute, another great organization serving our community.

Sinai Urban Health Institute
Quarterly Newsletter
Volume 5, Issue 1: January – March, 2011

Upcoming SUHI Events

Helping Her Live Presents the “My Pink Agenda” Kiosk Grand Opening Event May 17, 2011

The Helping Her Live/Apoyándola a Vivir (HHL) program is beginning a new outreach initiative this spring. “My Pink Agenda” will utilize computer kiosks to reach women in the North Lawndale (NL) and Humboldt Park (HP) communities. The kiosks will be strategically placed at various venues throughout these neighborhoods to help us connect with women we may have missed with our outreach efforts. Women who access the kiosk will be assessed on their knowledge of breast health and will be able to contact the HHL hotline. Our bilingual staff will assist callers with getting a free or low-cost mammogram. We will assist all women regardless of their background, income or insurance status. Additionally, the kiosk generates tailored magazines with information on breast cancer and mammography use. This kiosk project was adapted from a similar program in St. Louis and was found to increase mammography use in minority women.


The kick-off event and press conference for our kiosk initiative will be on Tuesday, May 17, 2011 at Mount Sinai Hospital and Rebaño Compañerismo Cristiano Church. All staff members and friends of SUHI are welcome to attend! The “My Pink Agenda” kiosk grand opening and press conference will begin at 10am in the main lobby at Mount Sinai Hospital with the ribbon cutting of our NL kiosk machine. The press conference will resume at 2pm at Rebaño Compañerismo Cristiano Church with the ribbon cutting of the HP kiosk machine. The HHL team is thrilled to launch a new community outreach initiative aimed at reaching even more women and we hope to see all of you there. If you have any questions or would like further information on the kick-off event please contact Giselle Vasquez (773) 257-2449 or Janeen Turner (773) 257-2685.

Suga’ Foot Blue to Premiere May 20-22, 2011

Suga’ Foot Blue, a play about diabetes written and directed by SUHI’s own Joseph West, will premiere at the DuSable Museum of African American History May 20-22, 2011. Suga’ Foot Blue is a profound drama that educates on the causes of diabetes and the consequential loss of a limb. Dottie, the main character, is a former dancer suffering from Type 2 diabetes who has been informed that she will lose her foot to the disease. The audience is absorbed in Dottie’s and her family’s struggle with impending loss. All will be moved by this powerfully poetic play.

SUHI and Friends to Gather and Cheer for 2011 Avon Breast Cancer Walkers

Come join the Sinai Cheering Team at the 2011 AVON Breast Cancer Walk in downtown Chicago. Family members, neighbors, children, and friends are all welcome. We will meet at Buckingham Fountain at noon on June 5th.

Cheering – From Noon to 2:00pm

Closing Ceremonies at 2:00 pm at Soldier Field

Let’s come together to support the AVON Breast Cancer Walkers as they finish their 39 mile/ two-day walk!

If you would like to participate in a life-changing event, please join us after we cheer on the walkers and head over to AVON’s emotional and moving closing ceremony where AVON representatives and others celebrate the accomplishments of the Chicago Avon Walkers and honor survivors.

Look for us with our pink SINAI t-shirts we’ll be waiting for you!!!

Information on Transportation and Parking on June 5th:

Train and Metro Accessible

Parking available at Millennium Park Garage

We will be providing free t-shirts for all participants. Please contact us by April 22nd so that we can order and reserve a t-shirt for you.

Coordinators for the event:

Naomi Jimenez (773)257-2894

Gloria Seals (773)257-5679

Helping Her Live to Host Breast Cancer Awareness Walk

The Helping Her Live: Gaining Control of Breast Health Project will host a Breast Cancer Awareness Walk on Saturday, September 10, 2011. More details on the walk will be available soon. Click here to view the Save the Date flyer!

SUHI News and Recent Events

SUHI’s Pediatric Asthma Program Selected as Finalist for Premier Cares Award

The Sinai Pediatric Asthma Program was one of six organizations nationally recognized as a finalist for the 19th annual Monroe E. Trout Premier Cares Award. The Cares Award, sponsored by Premier and its member hospitals, honors exemplary efforts by not-for-profit organizations to improve access to healthcare for the underserved.

Diabetes Learning Circle Launched

On March 16th the Block by Block Diabetes Program launched the Diabetes Learning Circle. The Diabetes Learning Circle, a study funded by the Advocate Bethany Fund, is a complimentary outreach activity for Block by Block. This study consists of a series of 8-week classes where North Lawndale residents with Type 2 diabetes participate in an intensive diabetes self-management program which has been proven to improve the health behaviors and health outcomes of African American adults with diabetes. The Learning Circle meets each Wednesday for 2-hours at the Douglas Park Field House with classes led by a dietician, diabetes peer supporters and the Block by Block Diabetes Block Captains.

Health Educator Empowerment Workshop

On March 18th, the Health Educators of the Sinai Urban Health Institute participated in a day-long Health Educator empowerment workshop. The workshop covered a number of topics germane to health education including time management and being aware of personal stressors resulting from work-related activities. Health Educators also received a community resource guide for providing outreach to clients of all of SUHI community initiatives.

Block by Block Diabetes Block Captains Complete Take Charge of Your Health Leadership Workshop

The Rush University Medical Center, Older Adult Programs offered a free diabetes leadership 4-day training called Take Charge of Your Health. The training certifies an individual as a class leader and facilitator for diabetes self-management. With this training and certificate the Block Captains will lead a series of diabetes self-management workshops for North Lawndale residents with Type 2 diabetes beginning early summer.

Walgreens Makes Major Donation to Block by Block

Walgreens extended itself as a partner to the Block by Block Diabetes Community Action program seeking to help share information on Block by Block and schedule its pharmacists for diabetes outreach and education. Walgreens also provided in-kind the Block by Block informational sheet on qualifying diabetes medications and health care products (specifically for Medicare and Medicaid patients); Map of Walgreens stores in our area and the diabetes-related services provided; 400 Blood Glucose Meters; pill boxes; and 500 copies of diabetes health magazines.

SUHI Presentations

Naomi Jimenez, an HHL Educator/Navigator, presented at the UIC Minority Health Conference on February 25, 2011. Her oral presentation was titled, “Community Navigation to Address Racial/Ethnic Inequities in Breast Cancer Mortality on the Westside of Chicago.”

Joseph West made a presentation on March 21st to the Sinai Health System Medical Executive Committee on Block by Block and Diabetes health in North Lawndale.

Steve Whitman gave several presentations throughout February and March:

On February 14, 2011, he presented on the topic of “Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Diabetes and a Strategy for Eliminating Them” at Bethany Foundation.

On Feb 23, 2011, he presented on the topic of “Racial Health Disparities in Chicago” as a part of the Northwestern University Medical Students Disparities Week.

On Feb 25, 2011, he presented at the Center for Excellence in the Elimination of Disparities on the topic of “Disparities in Diabetes in Chicago: Why Should We Care.”

On March 15, 2011, he presented at the Schwab Hospital Grand Rounds on the topic of “Racial Health Disparities in Chicago.”

On March 30, 2011, he presented on the topic of “Health and Race in Chicago” as part of the Sinai Residents Research Day.

SUHI Recently Awarded Grants

SUHI Awarded $549,000 HUD Grant

The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development has awarded the Sinai Health System $549,000 as part of an $8 million initiative on asthma intervention and protecting children from health hazards in their homes.

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Remembering Dr. King

Monday, April 4, 2011, marked the 43rd anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  In March 1968, Dr. King traveled to Memphis, Tennessee in support of striking African-American sanitation workers.  The workers had staged a walkout on February 11, 1968, to protest unequal wages and working conditions.  At the time, the city of Memphis paid black workers significantly lower wages than whites. In addition, unlike their white counterparts, blacks received no pay if they stayed home during bad weather; consequently, most blacks were compelled to work even in driving rain and snow storms.

On April 3, King returned to Memphis to address a gathering at the Mason Temple (World Headquarters of the Church of God in Christ). His airline flight to Memphis was delayed by a bomb threat against his plane. With a thunderstorm raging outside, King delivered the last speech of his life, now known as the “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” address.  As he neared the close, he made reference to the bomb threat:

And then I got to Memphis. And some began to say the threats… or talk about the threats that were out. What would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers?

Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. [applause] And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land! [applause] And so I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!

The next day, Dr. King was gunned down on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel. He is one of the greatest human rights activists that ever lived, and his work and message are just as relevant as ever.

Below is a video of his prophetic last speech.

Thanks to Chicago Career Tech Intern Pat McGhee for this article!

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Illinois College Tour

Three participants in YouthLAB@1512, BBF’s year-round programming for youth ages 13-18, will be attending the Illinois College Tour 2011 sponsored by the University of Illinois at Urbana, Champaign.

The tour will include:

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Parkland College College
Eastern Illinois University
& Illinois State University

Thirty-five (35) Chicago students will be attending the overnight trip.  They will be supervised by nine (9) adult chaperones.

The students will depart from UIC Circle Center (750 S. Halsted) at 7:15 a.m. on Thursday, April 7, 2011,and will return to the same location on Friday, April 8, 2011 at 7:30 p.m.

If you’d like to host BBF students on a college visit, please contact our volunteer coordinator, Kiersten Gray, at

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North Lawndale Neighborhood Recovery Initiative Funding

Governor Pat Quinn has released his budget recommendations for fiscal year 2012, and the Governor’s Neighborhood Recovery Initiative (NRI) funding is one of his recommendations. Here at BBF, the North Lawndale NRI committee has appealed to state legislators to support full funding of the program for the coming fiscal year. Approving this funding means that the initiative will be able to operate in all 23 communities through 2012. It is important that this funding be passed so that the NRI can continue to work to reduce violence throughout Chicago.

Please take a minute to phone your state legislators and express your support of the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, regardless of what neighborhood you live in. NRI programs are operating across Chicago, not only in North Lawndale. Go to the District Official Locator to find your state legislators and give them a call!

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Portraits in History: Mae Jemison

    Mae Jemison was born October 17th, 1956 in Decatur, Alabama. She was the first African-American woman to travel in space when she orbited Earth in the Space Shuttle Endeavour on September 12th, 1992. She has also been a physician and a professor. 

    Although Jemison was born in Alabama, her family moved to Chicago, IL when she was three because of the better opportunities for education. Growing up, she was always fascinated with space travel and science. As a little girl, she always assumed she would go into space. Along with science, she also loved the arts, participating in all different kinds of dance starting at the age of 9 and was also involved in school. Upon her senior year of college, she debated going to either medical school or becoming a professional dancer. She graduated from Stanford in 1997 with a B.S. in chemical engineering as well as a B.A. in African and Afro-American studies. She got her doctorate at Cornell Medical College in 1981 and traveled to different countries to provide medical care. Also during medical school, Jemison continued taking dance lessons and built a studio in her home to choreograph modern jazz and African dance shows.

    Jemison worked a while for the Peace Corps in Sierra Leone. After that, Jemison applied for astronaut program at NASA. Although she was turned down at first, she was accepted on her second application in 1987. She was part of the first class of astronauts after the Challenger accident in 1986 and launched the first flight after the accident. She flew her first and only space flight from September 12th to the 20th as the mission specialist. It was a cooperative mission between the US and Japan. Jemison spent 190 hours, 30 minutes, and 23 seconds in space.

    After her work in NASA, Jemison pursued many different endeavors. She started her own research company in 1993, founded BioSentient Corp in 1999 to research monitoring the nervous system, and was even in an episode of Star Trek. Throughout her career, Jemison received many different honors and awards. She is currently a professor at Cornell University and continues to advocate education in science, especially for minorities.

    Information received from Wikipedia: Mae Jemison

    Thanks to Renee Shurilla for this post!

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