By Rachel Bickel.
For the past 4 months of so, I’ve represented St. Luke’s on the Logan Square Neighborhood Association’s (LSNA) Member’s Action Committee (MAC). What does that mean exactly? St. Luke’s is a member organization of LSNA. LSNA has a committee made up of representatives from their member organizations that meets quarterly to talk about what has been going on in the neighborhood and the ways in which member organizations can get involved. So I sit on that committee to represent St. Luke’s and hopefully bring back what I learn to the congregation in some form or another. As a relatively new resident of Chicago and Logan Square, this has been a good opportunity to get to know my neighborhood a little bit better. But the added role of bringing this information back to St. Luke’s has challenged me to continually consider how the life of our faith community intersects with our Logan Square neighbors. As we continue to reflect on our theme for this year, coming alongside LSNA in their many efforts to “empower and maintain the Logan Square and surrounding communities as diverse, safe, and affordable neighborhoods” is one of the most tangible ways we can “branch out.”
So how do we “come along side” of them? Gifts of time and money support ongoing efforts are always great and very much appreciated (see the end of this post for more info on that!). It is also important to make sure we celebrate what has already been done and accomplished. I hope to use this post to celebrate the good work LSNA is doing around education.
Several months ago I had the opportunity to sit down with Nancy Aardema, the Executive Director of LSNA, to talk about the mission and programs of LSNA. Like any organization working for the common good – progress in LSNA’s efforts has not come without a lot of highs and lows, ups and downs. All of this makes a solid “win” after years of hard work that much more rewarding. When we got to the topic of education and Nancy began to talk about the Parent Mentor Program, her excitement was palpable.
The program, created as a partnership between LSNA and the Southwest Organizing Project, gives parents of neighborhood schools the opportunity to come into classrooms as mentors and aids to assist teachers for two hours a day, every day of the week. This gives much appreciated assistance to teachers, quality leadership opportunities to parents, and a relatable presence in the classroom for students. Over the course of 20 years the Parent Mentor program has garnered attention at both the state and national levels. It has been held up as an outstanding model for parent engagement in schools and the community. Most importantly it has changed countless lives right here in Logan Square. By creating the space and opportunities for people to understand each other better, LSNA has created a program that has cultivated new leaders in the Logan Square community.
Recently the program was featured on the Today Show as part of Education Nation – a huge accomplishment for this grassroots program. There are many interesting videos and case studies about this program available on LSNA’s web site. I really encourage you to check them out when you get a chance. It’s very inspiring and makes you proud to be associated with the Logan Square community.
If you get a chance send LSNA a note congratulating them for this recognition, thanking them for all they have done to give back to the community, and encouraging them to keep up the good work they are doing. This work goes well beyond the Parent Mentor program into efforts such as after-school programming, advocacy work, and student leadership programs.
If you are feeling inspired by this work, another way you can show your support for LSNA’s education programs is by buying some raffle tickets!
On Thursday, December 6, 2012 LSNA will host their annual LSNA Teachers Rock – Family Holiday Raffle & Party. To help raise funds to support their excellent education programs, they are asking MAC members to sell raffle tickets. The top raffle items include a 1 year membership at McCormick Tribune YMCA, a $250 Bike & Tune-up Package, $200 cash prize, $150 spa package, and $100 Nikon digital camera.
Please let me know if you are interested in donating to LSNA by purchasing raffle tickets. Tickets are $20/packet (each packet has 5 tickets) or $5.00 a ticket. You do not have to present at the party to win.
Also let me know if you are interested in learning more about the work of LSNA or volunteering in any way. There are many ways to get involved. Email me at email@example.com