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From the Streets: Neighborhood Housing Service honors Shiller

Fri, Jun 22, 2012

Allen Rodriquez, NHS Board Member, Chairman of Gale Cincotta Visionary Award Selection Committee, Steven Quasny, Director of Community Development Lending, BMO Harris Bank, Gale Cincotta Community Visionary Award recipient Helen Shiller and NHS of Chicago, Executive Director, Ed Jacob

Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago, Inc. (NHS) raised more than $380,000 in support of its programs at its recent annual awards dinner hosted by NBC5-TV anchor Alison Rosati at the Chicago Marriott downtown. Established in 1975, NHS of Chicago is a nonprofit housing, counseling and lending organization committed to offering affordable resources to help individuals buy, fix and keep their homes.

“Now more than ever, we recognized that it is not just the bricks and mortar that build a successful community,” said NHS Executive Director Ed Jacob in his opening to the evening. “It’s the quality of the local schools, the access to good jobs, the social relationships, and the sense of safety and security in the neighborhoods.”

In an era where technology can connect people around the world, many people still have trouble talking to their neighbors, Jacob said. The NHS honorees, however, “go across the street and across the city to build vibrant communities. We will continue to work with our partners and seek innovative new ways to impact and strengthen our neighborhoods.”

Helen Shiller, who was 46th ward alderman for 24 years, received the Gale Cincotta Community Visionary Award, named for the founding NHS board member and community builder. In the summer of 2010, Uptown celebrated the culmination of Shriller’s most ambitious effort – the Wilson Yard TIF, as a new 200,000 square foot multi-level Target Department store opened alongside mixed-income housing and other retail. The Wilson Yard development flowed from numerous community meetings in an inclusive and comprehensive planning process.

In summing up her philosophy in a 2005 speech, Shiller said “I would like to suggest that we all have a responsibility to make this a better world. And further that as just plain ordinary human beings, all of us have a responsibility to know the world in which we live and to be part of its growth and development…if we start with who we are in our hearts, identify our values, debate them,…put ourselves in the shoes of others before we act, know what we are trying to affect, hear all the voices from the myriad of potential stakeholders, our differences will be a benefit and not a hindrance, and we might even discover that our notions of justice and fairness resemble each other and can be achieved.”

State Farm Insurance Companies received the NHS’ Corporate Leadership Award for Economic Development. State Farm provides NHS neighborhoods with employment opportunities and also partners to create successful housing options. Over the last 35 years, NHS and State Farm have worked together on The Chicago Home Safety Partnership, Historic Chicago Greystones Initiative, NHS’ Home Ownership Campaign, Green Initiative and NeighborWorks Day, the first Saturday in June, where NHS brings people from corporations, non-profits, and the community together for a day of volunteer service in each of its seven Chicago neighborhoods and Elgin.

Education is a key component in attracting families to neighborhoods and to rebuilding communities, so NHS honored Rowe-Clark Math and Science Academy with the Quality Education Award for building neighborhood confidence and continuing to invest in the West Humboldt neighborhood, (one of NHS’ target neighborhoods). Rowe- Clark opened its doors in August 2007 to its first freshman class and now has 600 students at all grade levels. The goal of its academic program is college preparation.

NHS presented Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS) with the Safety Award, because a neighborhood’s success also depends on safety. Families want and deserve to live and invest where they feel safe and secure every day: on their way to work, on their way to school, on their way home and while simply watching their children playing in front of the home. From a pilot program in five diverse neighborhoods to today’s citywide program, CAPS has a goal of blending traditional policing with “alternative” strategies aimed at encouraging community members and police to work together to reduce the occurrence of crimes. CAPS and NHS have been partners for over 15 years, sharing resources, collaborating on educational programs, and working together to beautify areas of the city.

Judges included; Dory Rand, president of the Woodstock Institute; Steve Bernas, President & CEO, Chicago Better Business Bureau; Laura Ann Spencer, vice president of operations, Perma-Seal; Donovan Pepper, senior manager, local government relations, Walgreens; and Julian Brown, manager corporate contributions, Nicor.

Suzanne Hanney, Prepared Materials

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