Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Prayer to the World

God grant me the ability to see other's faults 
through the eyes of You.
Teach me not to judge what they do 
Give me patience, grace and the spirit of love 
to endure life's challenges
Give me the spirit of wisdom to be transformed anew
Grant me a stronger faith that I might feel more secure. 
Teach me to forget the petty irritations 
that bubble up and cause my anger
Lead me God out of danger
Teach me to forget the wounds of the past so that I might heal 
Help me send out my light of peace and kindness 
into the world 
May 2011 be a  year filled with peace, prosperity and love
May the blessings of your love continue to be in my heart 
And in the hearts of others each and every day

Happy New Year's everyone!


Monday, December 27, 2010

Media Hits from The Memorial Service for Those Who Died Homeless

The Memorial Service for Those Who Died Homeless was held on Tuesday, Dec. 21 at 6 p.m. where over 500 people attended to honor those who lost their battle of survival on our cold, mean streets. Pitching this story was not issue because many media personality were planning vacation time and it appears that the homeless is a forgotten segment of society. The media might be concerned, but they don’t consider this issue a top priority for their viewers, listeners, etc. I received media coverage in a few smaller publication, but the below hits represent the media coverage I secured with mainstream press. A politician mentioned the Memorial Service on the floor of the house, which appears on CSpan. A local News Service cameraman attended the service and got all of the footage for the other news station. I have yet to find that TV coverage. Enjoy the hits!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Mellow Madness

Thoughts of mellow memories float throughout your mind
Lonely daises waver in the wind
Leaving a fragrance of lost lust in its path
Two people meet and can feel 
the energy of physical attraction
Yet, they dare not speak or express their passion

Quick glances and soft touches torture the mind
Still your weary heart doubt's it'll find
That love partner - that magical sign
For now your love partner lives 
in the core of your imaginations
Those fanciful creations that leave a tantalizing yet, sour feeling in the pit of your stomach

Unanswered questions jag at your heart
Like a knife being plunged deep within your soul 
never cease to amaze you
Will anyone ever understand you? Or, will you forever be immersed in Mellow Madness?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Fair Trade Vendors Showcase Products through Alternative Market at Old St. Pat's Church: Combating Poverty by Empowering People through Entrepreneurship

During this Season for Social Justice, Old St. Patrick's Justice Initiative will host an Alternative Market on Sunday, Oct. 24 at 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the church hall at Old St. Pat’s Church, 700 West Adams, in Chicago’s west loop area. This unique market is filled with more than 26 small, local, (and global) Fair Trade vendors, local farmers, and entrepreneurs who are working towards transforming their lives through job training and life skills support. Such a market exemplifies Old St. Pat’s year-long theme of Solidarity: Life Without Borders because it gives consumers a chance to enhance their sense of connection to people around the world and provides a glimpse of their ongoing struggle to fight poverty.

“We’re so excited about hosting such an incredible gathering of socially conscious organizations offering transitional employment and eco-friendly products that will help reduce poverty for families locally as well as globally.” said Rev. Thomas J. Hurley, pastor of Old St. Patrick’s Church.

This market also provides an opportunity to increase awareness of the individual stories of hope as these vendors continue to transform their lives through entrepreneurship. Additionally, the products featured include numerous handmade, sustainable, and Earth-friendly products for sale at reasonable prices.

Organizations like The Enterprising Kitchen, Abbey Brown Soap Artisan, Bright Endeavors, and Just Haiti all help to empower low-income women to achieve economic self-sufficiency through critical life and job skills enhancement programs. In addition, organizations like Chicago Fair Trade, Sweet Beginnings, Solidarity Clothing, and World-Shoppe all help to fight the ongoing struggle of poverty through job training while also offering Earth-Friendly products for sale.

Come join us for this unique market of vendors and products. For more information on the Justice Initiative at Old St. Pat’s, please contact Bob Kolatorowicz at 312.831.9379. If you’re seeking general information about Old St. Patrick’s Church, visit or call 312.648.1021.

About the Justice Initiative at Old St. Patrick’s Church
It has become our practice at Old St. Patrick’s Church to designate September as a Season for Social Justice. During this time we set our sights on gaining a greater appreciation and understanding of the Catholic social ethic. Selecting a theme from Catholic Social Teaching, we use the Season as a time for dialogue, learning, inspiration, reflection, and most importantly, as an impetus to action.This year our focus is on Solidarity. Within the theme Solidarity, Catholic Social Teaching emphasizes that we are one human family. Our responsibilities to each other cross national, racial, economic, and ideological differences.

About Old St. Patrick’s Church
Founded in 1846, Old St. Patrick’s Church is one of the oldest public buildings in the city of Chicago. Its mission is to extend hospitality to all that find the church on their path. The current church structure, located on the northwest corner of Adams and Des Plaines streets, was dedicated on Christmas Day, 1856. In 1977, Old St. Patrick’s was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Memorial Service for Those Who Died Homeless: Housing is a Human Right

Did you know in the course of a year, 2.5 million to 3.5 million people in the United States will experience homelessness? According to the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, 74,100 men, women, youth, and children were homeless in 2008-9. This includes those living in shelters or with relatives and friends. Many are losing the battle to survive.

The National Health Care for the Homeless Council, states, “Homelessness dramatically elevates one’s risk of illness, injury and death. Join us as the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless and the Ignatian Spirituality Project host a Memorial Service for Those Who Died Homeless on Tuesday, Dec. 21 at 6 p.m. at Old St. Patrick’s Church, 700 West Adams Street.

“Let’s consider the incarnation through a different lens, the lens of the homeless poor living and dying on our streets. In Chicago, where the abundance of wealth and security is ever present in the bombardment of media messages to buy, buy, buy, there is another reality; the reality of our brothers and sisters — children of God — losing the struggle for their lives. It is to them that we turn to, to memorialize and to ask about the message of beauty and hope that Christmas offers,” said Tom Drexler, executive director of the Ignatian Spirituality Project.

This Memorial Service and Candle Lighting Ceremony is a way to honor those who died without hope, without a home. It’s an opportunity to give grieving loved ones a moment of remembrance for those they’ve lost as well as a chance to celebrate their lives. “I am convinced that there are certain things that only the weakest and most vulnerable among us can teach us about life. We have to offer hope to those still in the midst of this struggle, a life struggle for survival,” said Wayne Richards, community organizer for the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless.

Homelessness is clouded by stereotypes, false assumptions and untruths, but the reality is when the economy slows down, job opportunities decrease. More than a third of manufacturing jobs were lost in the U.S. between 2000 and 2005. Couple that with the link between violence and homelessness, incarceration and homelessness, illiteracy and homelessness, mental illness and homelessness as well as youth growing up in difficult environments that could lead to childhood homelessness, and you have a crisis of epidemic proportions.

In the shadows of the Magnificent Mile, this Memorial Service and Candle Lighting will serve as a reminder to all of us that homelessness is a human struggle. Each individual life is precious; therefore, we should all care about the struggles of others because housing is a human right.

“It is our hope that this Candle Lighting and Memorial Service will help build awareness of this plight that affects so many people across the country, said Tim McCabe, retreat coordinator and development associate for the Ignatian Spirituality Project. “We hope those struggling with this difficult issue will be encouraged to move beyond it.”

For more information on this service, please contact KT Communications at the above number and for more info on the retreats contact Tom Drexler, executive director for the Ignatian Spirituality Project.

About the Ignatian Spirituality Project
Founded in 1999, The Ignatian Spirituality Project (ISP) works to end homelessness by providing Ignatian Retreats to men and women who are homeless and in recovery. ISP has found that people living in shelters and on the streets are confronting enormous obstacles in their transition out of homelessness and into recovery. ISP has pioneered a retreat program, which effectively addresses this need. Spirituality and spiritual retreats have proven to be an effective and important resource in laying a fundamental foundation of hope, which can lead to further and long lasting transformation.

About the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless
Since 1980, the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless (CCH) has had a clear mission: We organize and advocate to prevent and end homelessness because we believe housing is a human right in a just society.CCH advocacy targets access to affordable housing, job training and public schools in Chicago and the suburbs. Community organizers, policy specialists, and public interest attorneys work with people who are impacted by homelessness, including mothers with children, unaccompanied youth, prostitution survivors, ex-offenders, and low-wage workers. CCH runs regular outreach at 30 shelters, transitional housing and street programs across Chicago, involving 4,500 people a year.

About Old St. Patrick’s Church
Founded in 1846, Old St. Patrick’s Church is one of the oldest public buildings in the city of Chicago. Its mission is to extend hospitality to all that find the church on their path. The current church structure, located on the northwest corner of Adams and Des Plaines streets, was dedicated on Christmas Day, 1856. In 1977, Old St. Patrick’s was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Dating Violence: How I Learned to Spot an Abuser

Love. We all want it at some point in our lives. Women grow up on the fairy-tale romances of Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Cinderella, etc. We want the happy endings we read about as little girls. Some of us go into the dating phase of our lives seeing love in the eyes of every man we meet. I was just like most of the girlfriends around me at the time. I pined over my wants and needs for a man. The only difference with me was that I chose to remain a virgin well into my mid-twenties hoping that true love would come my way.

Love blossomed with a tall, dark, handsome man seven years older than I who worked in the same building as me at the time. He wanted to be with me everyday, and I was flattered. The convenience of working in the same building initially was great for me. For so many years, I’d tried to avoid the type of man who appeared to be a player, a user, or someone out for just one thing. I avoided the player type like he was the plaque, so when I met my true love and he was the opposite of a player— I suddenly felt totally safe. I let my guard down, and fell deeply in love. It never occurred to me that I should be cautious of other things. When he asked to see me everyday and every night, I obliged feeling so thrilled I’d finally landed a fine, attentive, first lover. His constant attention made me feel as though I’d made the right decision.

Three months passed and we were still going strong, but slowly I was growing weary. Our relationship never settled into anything that felt normal. He appeared not to have any friends, and his entire family lived in Indiana. He never went to visit with them or call them on the phone. Once the fog of love lifted from my eyes, I noticed his tiny studio apartment in Lincoln Park and the fact that he had no car began to bother me. I did’t voice any concerns; I just started paying attention. When we first met, his car was in the shop and then just never materialized. This was a man that made quite a bit of money. I saw his paychecks, but later learned he had no bank account. He drank sometimes, but I never thought he might be abusing a heavier drug until he offered me cocaine one night. I never tried it, but it bothered me that he asked. He never asked again, but I began to wonder about his habits and addictions. I really started paying attention.

He worked everyday, but was always broke. He was asking me for my money on a regular basis when I made less than him while working a full-time and part-time job. I began to wonder where his friends or family were, so I insisted we visit his mother in Indiana. We were still seeing each other everyday, but that amount of time was wearing thin on me. I felt like he was suffocating me, but I soldiered on because I believed I was in love. At his mother’s house, she took one look at me and asked if I knew of his cocaine habit. I was in shock. I replied, “what habit?” She just laughed and said ask him. On our way home, I did and he shrugged saying his mom was the one with the habit. I was so naive because I didn’t press him that night. Looking back, I don’t think I wanted to see the truth.

Finally I said I wanted to go home alone. We could skip being together for one night. His reaction was even more depressing. He got all paranoid and suspicious, but let me go home. I had been in the relationship for four months and was growing tired of being in it. To have pined over falling in love, being in a relationship, and finding a soul mate only to want space when I actually found it because I felt crowded by him was a strange moment for me. Be careful what you ask for because you might just get it. I got it all right, and much more. I realized I wanted our relationship to feel more normal. I wanted to miss him instead of seeing him constantly. I didn’t want nor desired an insecure, possessive man that had to be with you all the time in order to trust you. I was so busy looking out for a player that I never saw this coming.

The next day we were back together and it was New Year’s Eve. He came home with me for us to celebrate at my place. As I watched the news he came into the room and just changed the channel without a word to me. I snatched the remote, and changed it back and he turned and slapped me across the face. It was the first time he’d ever raised his hand to me. I was shocked and then my shock turned to anger and I threw him out. It was an hour before the New Year, and I’d just thrown my first love out on the street. I quickly learned that being in a relationship was’t all it was cracked up to be. According to the Family Violence Prevention Fund (FVPV), nearly one in four women in the United States reports experiencing violence by a current or former spouse or boyfriend at some point in her life. I had many girlfriends with boyfriends, but no one had mentioned anything about dating violence. At the time, I felt all alone in my strange relationship and too ashamed to talk about it.

Like so many women, I slowly began to accept his calls, letters and flowers. The fact that he worked in my building now was an annoyance because I literally could not get away from him. I shutter to think what it would have been like to work in the same office with him. From the outside looking in, you would have thought I had the most romantic boyfriend. I actually had a boss completely jealous of me because of the many flowers he brought to my office. But these weren’t flowers of love, they were apology flowers for something he had said, and now did to me. It was two weeks later when I decided to go back to him…my first boyfriend — the man who had slapped me. Yes, I know what a fool I was. I believed he loved me, and that he would never slap me again. Now I know better — if any man slaps you once, he’ll surely slap you again or even worse. I wanted the happy-ever-after so bad I believed everything would be okay after two weeks apart. In less than one week of getting back together he showed me his true colors because I arrived late to his apartment one night.

Once inside, I clearly could see he was angry. He wanted an explanation as to why I was late. I shrugged off his concerns and turned my back on him to walk into the closet area. Upon turning around his hands were around my throat. He pushed me up against a wall and began to lift me off the floor as his hand tighten on my neck. All I saw was crazy in his eyes. I struggled to catch my breath. Everything happened so fast that I really had no time to react. I kept looking in his eyes in utter shock that this was the man I was in love with that was suppose to love me. When I realized he might kill me over the dumb relationship we were having, I grew so angry that I quickly turned from a wimpy, tearful, victim to a struggling, fighting machine. The first thing I tried to grab was his earring as I started kicking my legs and moving wildly. When I finally grabbed the earring, I yanked as hard as I could, scratching and grabbing for his eyes, hair, and shirt. I couldn’t scream or breath because the grip he had on my throat was tight, but I could fight. I swung my arms at his face and earrings so much I drew blood. When I yanked his earring out, it was as if he woke up and suddenly realized he’d attacked me. He let go of my neck, and as my feet hit the ground his knees hit the floor. Suddenly he was on his knees crying with his arms wrapped around my waist. I felt as though I was in a horrible B-rated movie, but couldn’t press pause to walk away. He started chanting that he was sorry but all I could think about was leaving him for good. All I could think about was getting out of that apartment and away from the crazy man I’d once loved. All the love I thought I had for him left the night he wrapped his hands around my throat.

The FVPF states, “on average more than three women a day are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends in the United States. In 2005, 1,181 women were murdered by an Intimate partner.” I knew I had escaped death that night. In retrospect, all of the signs of an abusive, possessive man were there. He was needy and insecure. He wanted to be with me everyday from the very beginning. There was no mystery, except the fact that he had no friends or family around him. He seemed to try and encourage me not to be around my own family. There were other signs he was just a plain old loser. He was a 30-year-old man living in a studio apartment with a car that never came out of the shop and a paycheck cashed at the currency exchange. He didn’t pay his bills on time because I saw threats of disconnect notices around his apartment. He wanted me to do cocaine, and was probably abusing it himself since he couldn’t pay his bills. He was a total loser, but because he wasn’t a player I never saw those huge signs right in front of my face. I saw what I wanted to see because I was a 23-year-old woman tired of being a virgin. I wanted a boyfriend. I wanted to be in that fairy-tale romance; I wanted to be in love. He faked it for two to three months, and no one else had done that, so I fell for him hook, line and sinker. Most of the men I’d known had been so obvious that it wasn’t hard to see why I shouldn’t trust them. This man came off like my prince charming until my love fog lifted. Half the things I should have spotted didn’t become clear to me until that night. In addition to avoiding needy, possessive, insecure men, I also realized I should never date anyone that either worked in the same company or building with me. I even extended that rule to men who worked in close proximity to my building. I truly wised up on how to date in this crazy world.

After this experience, the excitement of having a boyfriend was totally gone. I was also slower at pegging someone as my “boyfriend.” I became much slower at selecting dates than I had been. For the first time in my life I valued my singlehood and understood the gift of those moments alone…of those moments when you’re unattached and your time is your own. Before my first lover, I was always pining for love, writing countless journal entries about my many bad dates and sharing my woes with my single and married friends. After him, a bad date was just a bad date and I understood how lucky I was that the date wasn’t my boyfriend. I had always taken my time with men, but now I really was going to take my time. Receiving lots of attention and franticness would not sway me any longer. I did not let the franticness of a new date make me drop my guard, even when that franticness lasted for months. Meanwhile, my ex moved into a new phase — stalking me at home and on the job. However, I’ll save that saga for another day, another article.

Copyright 2010