2007.03.19: March 19, 2007: Headlines: Figures: COS - Solomon Islands: City Government: Chicago Tribune: Tom Weisner addresses issues facing Cook and other Aurora Housing Authority residents

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Solomon Islands: Special Report: Mayor and Solomon Islands RPCV Tom Weisner: 2007.03.19: March 19, 2007: Headlines: Figures: COS - Solomon Islands: City Government: Chicago Tribune: Tom Weisner addresses issues facing Cook and other Aurora Housing Authority residents

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Tom Weisner addresses issues facing Cook and other Aurora Housing Authority residents

Tom Weisner addresses issues facing Cook and other Aurora Housing Authority residents

"Twenty-five years ago, I was in the Peace Corps in the Solomon Islands, and I saw poverty, ignorance and homelessness," said Aurora Mayor Thomas Weisner at a kickoff event. "Today I'm mayor of Aurora and I see poverty, ignorance and homelessness. It wasn't OK in the Solomon Islands, and it isn't OK here." Tom Weisner, elected mayor of Aurora, IL in 2005, served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Solomon Islands.

Tom Weisner addresses issues facing Cook and other Aurora Housing Authority residents

Fixing up Aurora's public housing

Officials, churches discuss ways to make residents' lives better

By Rhianna Wisniewski
Special to the Tribune

Published March 19, 2007

Ten years ago, Leola Cook and her five children moved into a small apartment in Aurora's Eastwood neighborhood.

Today, although her children are all grown, Cook's life and her apartment remain largely the same. Since 1997, there's been no new paint on the walls of Cook's home, which also has missing or cracked tiles and no air conditioning.

That may soon change.

A recent meeting at Ginger Creek Community Church brought together nearly 800 worshipers from Ginger Creek and Family and Faith Christian Church in Aurora to address the issues facing Cook and other Aurora Housing Authority residents. More than 200 families said they are eager to help residents such as Cook improve their lives.

"Twenty-five years ago, I was in the Peace Corps in the Solomon Islands, and I saw poverty, ignorance and homelessness," said Aurora Mayor Thomas Weisner at a kickoff event. "Today I'm mayor of Aurora and I see poverty, ignorance and homelessness. It wasn't OK in the Solomon Islands, and it isn't OK here."

The city and the two churches will begin programs for public-housing residents in the next few months, including a tae kwon do class and mentoring services for children and adults. Volunteers will be sought to buy groceries, contribute clothing and food and improve the neighborhood.

"We're not about the handout, we're about the hand up," said Weisner.

Weisner said the new efforts would lend resources and personnel to expand programs already in place in AHA developments. The city's role, he said, would be solely to communicate where the needs are greatest in Aurora.

Churches have done separate community outreach efforts in Aurora. Last summer, Juan Ortiz and his mother, Norma, both Sugar Grove residents, spent a day with nearly 400 fellow Ginger Creek members, helping fix up homes for those in need. The church also held an adopt-a-child program at Christmas so children of impoverished families would receive gifts. Family and Faith Church's members also bought groceries for Eastwood residents.

Rev. Charles Stone, Ginger Creek's senior pastor, and Rev. Mark Smith, Family and Faith's pastor, said the mayor's recent communication with both churches led to the collaboration.

Stone would like to create a model program for public-housing complexes and low-income housing. He said the two groups will spend 30 to 60 days hammering out specifics. Then the programs will launch in Aurora's Eastwood neighborhood.

Eastwood is a low-income AHA development with approximately 100 units.

"Everything that had been there 10 years ago is still there," Cook said of her residence there.

Besides improving her home, she wants help getting a job and would be thrilled to see job-training seminars and computer classes offered on site.

Copyright © 2007, Chicago Tribune




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Headlines: March, 2007; RPCV Tom Weisner (Solomon Islands); Figures; Peace Corps Solomon Islands; Directory of Solomon Islands RPCVs; Messages and Announcements for Solomon Islands RPCVs; City Government; Illinois





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Story Source: Chicago Tribune

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Figures; COS - Solomon Islands; City Government

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