Harold Ickes Homes News

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The Good The Bad The Ugly

Our hopes and dreams will always have a place in our children’s faces as they make their first achievement of success – from their first graduation from their earliest formal educational experience.

Picture this, a beautiful balmy sun shiny day, powder blue sky, soft white clouds, hundreds of blue and white balloons dancing on strings grasped in the tiny hands of some 70 pre-school graduates. Parents, grandparents, siblings, cousins and friends gathered in groups for pictures. The graduates were excited, shouting, pointing, running, grinning, and hugging gifts of teddy bears, flowers, boxes of candy, etc.

What a sight! An all-good visual experience that recorded the beginning of an educational journey that will take place in the newly constructed Cermak Teacher’s Academy, which formed the background for this stimulating community affair. If the City does not believe there are children waiting excitedly to fill each new classroom, let me assure them. The goodness of our lives is in our children and we patiently have prepared them to be ready for the doors to open.

The calmative scene described above features the pre-school students of Henry Booth House Head Start programs at their graduation on July 13. The place: the Chicago Housing Authority’s Harold L. Ickes Homes. The mood: all joy! The Bad reared its devastating face in the form of a horrendous apartment fire that took the lives of two people, a small child, an adult. The agony of the experience injured 12 other people, including two children, four fire fighters and five more adults.

Sadly, fires occur much too often to overplay the facts of this one. However, for some of those that stood by outside the fire, the bravery of Chicago’s firefighters who did what we could not do augmented the depression and the helplessness accruing among the residents who are experiencing untold disappointments. For many residents, the sadness stemmed from the ‘Back to Square One’ syndrome, which causes any improvements in our living situation, when and if they are made, to be undone. The syndrome furthers the misunderstandings between Ickes’ new managers and the residents. The tears the crowd shed also brought home the alarming fact that children do ‘play’ with matches and this is something that can be and should be prevented. The lessons learned from this tragedy should be taken seriously. Necessary steps in each home should be put in place to prevent more occurrences.

The Ugly blighted an otherwise annual day of community rejoicing in itself and its families.

In the past, our celebrated Fun Days have created lasting joys and friendships among the residents. This year, it just didnt quite develop into a fully pleasurable outing.

This year’s Fun Day was negatively affected by all the changes made within CHA’s work force and the construction of the new school on the very grounds formerly used to stretch out and accommodate all ages in games, rides and exhibits. A cramped feeling marred the interest usually applied to the day.

Even the pinnacle of the day’s excitement, held in the basketball arena, fell short of all expectations. At the request of Ickes Local Advisory Council President Gloria Williams, CHA Director of Programs Gil Walker put on the entertainment. The groups were good because children performed. The youths showed perseverance and practice. However, the directors of these groups should have projected a more positive message to our youthful audience.

The tumbling team’s performance lacked a littler luster but the participants were well coordinated and put on a skilled exhibit.

The dancers, however, used dance moves indecent for the total audience’s viewing experience. The majority of young people watching had to ask questions that should only be discussed by adults. Adult males showed too much pleasure at the moves the young girls made. For me, it was disgusting.

I had a talk with Dwayne Holmes, the dance director, who was open to my objection of the presentation’s specific error in communication. He promised to educate himself in proper African American cultural dance routines and apologized for the mistakes. I look forward to an improved group next year.

The food was the bomb! Sacks and bags delighted the children and fed the adults with nourishment. Hopefully, the activities can be rethought and redesigned next year to the betterment of all.

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