The journey of Hanan Fayoumi and her four children from Damascus, Syria to Rockford was full of struggles and unpredictability.
She left her home with her husband and kids after violence escalated in 2012 and went to her parents’ big house in a safe village. They stayed with all of her siblings and their families who fled their houses too.
At the Annoyance Theater, a place known for celebrating more absurd brands of comedy, Matt Damon Improv is doing something that shouldn’t be absurd, providing a place for women of color to perform freely in the acting community. Their variety show tackles social, racial, and cultural issues every Sunday Night at 9:30 pm.
A South-Side Chicago neighborhood endures significant flooding from even minor rain events. It’s had this problem since the 1860s and residents are tired of scrubbing their basements and dealing with mold. But the end may be in sight — at least for a few dozen homes.
Photo at top: Rain gardens help mitigate flooding. This is one type of intervention the pilot program will fund for Chatham homes. (Lori Burns/Chatham resident)
Humbolt Park’s West Town Bikes has grown from a small partnership with an affordable housing network to a city-wide program provider, using the “magic of the bicycle” to foster youth development. In conjunction with its retail store, Ciclo Urbano, West Town bikes provides the chance for local teenagers to play, learn and work.
Anne Street set a wall of five clocks at home to the moment of her marriage and the birth times of each of her four children. The accuracy of the time can be calculated in seconds.
Her eldest son George, 7, excitedly pointed to the clock with the time of 5:48:17 p.m. at a standstill – the clock in the top left corner.
“That one’s my clock!”
Then he turned around and ran to the toy tent. Anthony, 4, Anne’s second son, did not seem to care whether his birth time was on the top right corner, set at 5 p.m., or the lower right corner, set at about 7 p.m. He was more excited about the middle clocks: “The big one’s Daddy’s,” the clock celebrating the Streets’ marriage. Anthony’s clock is the one set at 5.
If Lorraine, the owner of the clock in the lower left corner, was still here, she would be able to show her age, with a mumbled language that others may not understand.
Fr. Tom McCarthy is in his element. He wears the Augustinian Black Robe. He fills the immediate space around him with gestures and a Chicago accent. He faces 32 students at All Saints School in Rossford, Ohio, and plants a seed.
“How many of you here have thought about being a priest or sister?”
The question matters to McCarthy because he once had to answer it. Sister Catherine Hanlin posed the same proposition to his sixth grade class at St. Adrian’s on the south side of Chicago – in room 205, he remembers. He recalls little else from Sister Hanlin’s speech other than the question itself.
Around 20 young children, accompanied by their caregivers, sing and dance to both English and Mandarin nursery rhymes, listen to an English story translated to the Mandarin language, and learn from a bilingual teacher about cultivating good habits in the classroom.
It is a scene called “circle time” and it happens every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at the Chinese American Service League’s family and learning resource center, said CASL’s parent-child educator, Jasmine Wang. On Wednesdays and Fridays, the children participate in gym classes.
Through the program, the children – infants, toddlers and a bit older – are taught simple songs and dances, habits such as lining up to wash their hands before eating a meal and about different festivities ranging from Lunar New Year to Christmas and Thanksgiving.
The goal of the two-hour program, said CASL’s manager for children and youth development, Yuling Wu, is to educate both children and parents.
“For children, it is to provide a learning environment where they can get to know American culture, and kind of experiencing the school setting in the United States,” said Wu.
Tom Boyle can’t help but poke through his shelves. He’s in search of a movie poster that only he can visualize. It’s somewhere among the newspaper clippings, the vinyl records, the buttons and the books.
“Let me see,” he says, furrowing his brows and shuffling through his inventory.
After searching for a few minutes himself, he sends his colleague over to the other corner of the store, hoping he can help find it. Poking and prodding through the posters, the pair finally pull it out of the pile: “A Stratton Story.” Their eyes glance over the picture depicting the 1949 film about an injured baseball player. They notice the faded red-and-white hues and the way James Stewart embraces June Allyson.
“This is it,” Boyle says with a smile.
But they weren’t searching through their inventory for fun. They were hoping to retrieve the poster for a customer, who has the same last name as Stewart’s character.
“It’s like finding a home for abandoned children,” Boyle said. “When we can find a good home for these items, it makes us happy.”
Intimate customer service and an ability to provide rare items from the past are exactly how Boyle’s store, a memorabilia shop called Yesterday, has managed to stay open for 42 years.