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IDHR Press Release — February 26 2007 

Seal of the State of Illinois




February 26, 2007


Abby Ottenhoff
Rebecca Rausch
Gerardo Cardenas
Anjali Julka (IDHR)


Gov. Blagojevich recognizes African-American organizations
with PATH Awards

State officials present awards to several African-American organizations for their
outstanding efforts to
help members of their community

CHICAGO – On behalf of Governor Rod R. Blagojevich and in commemoration of African American History Month, State of Illinois officials today presented several African-American organizations with the Governor’s “People Are Today’s Heroes” (PATH) Awards in recognition of their tireless efforts to help people in their community.  Deputy Governor Louanner Peters presented awards to Proviso Missionary Baptist Church, Chicago Area Project (CAP), Sinai Community Institute, Featherfist and Fernwood United Methodist Church during an event held at Chicago Area Project (CAP) in Chicago.

“Through their hard work, these organizations have helped thousands of children, men, women and veterans, and made great strides in the fight against homelessness, hunger and poverty.  They are truly part of today’s heroes,” said the Governor.

“African-American History Month is a time to remember the many contributions African-Americans have made throughout the course of American history.  Today, on behalf of Governor Blagojevich, I am proud to recognize these organizations as their inspiring efforts to assist members of their community reflects the same vision that so many of our forefathers had,” said Louanner Peters, Deputy Governor, State of Illinois.

The Governor’s PATH Award recognizes groups or individuals who, through their hard work and commitment, have improved the lives of those in their community and have helped Illinois move forward in the areas of health care, public safety, education, environment, economic development and affordable housing.

The following organizations received PATH Awards:

Proviso Missionary Baptist Church — Bishop Dr. Claude Porter is the founder and pastor of the Proviso Baptist Church in Maywood, where he has been pastor for over 30 years.  In 1968, Bishop Porter founded The Proviso-Leyden Council for Community Action, Inc., (P.L.C.C.A.) — the arm of the Proviso Missionary Baptist Church &mdash where Bishop Porter says everyone receives a “hand up” not a “hand out”.  P.L.C.C.A.’s Homeless Intervention/Prevention Program offers advice and assistance to help improve housing conditions and identify responsibilities of being a tenant and/or potential landlord including how to buy or rent, deal with delinquency and defaults, conserve energy, solve relocation and displacements and access emergency services.  In February 2001, Bishop Porter opened Victor Goodell Place — a four story, 22-unit affordable housing complex valued over $3 million to house families and individuals.  The building is dedicated to the memory of his friend Victor Goodell.  Bishop Porter is the President of the Maywood Phoenix Home, which is a Section 202, Section 8 subsidized property consisting of 72 units to house elderly and disabled persons, who are capable of living independently.  Bishop Porter oversaw construction of the Peppers Path Homes, 23 affordable, single-family homes in Maywood.  Bishop Porter is the Chairman of Proviso Township Ministerial Alliance Network (PTMAN) and of the International Ministerial Alliance Network or IMAN – both of which develop and bridge the gap within the community of faith towards its betterment.

Featherfist — Formed in 1984, serves veterans, homeless men, women and children, and those who are “at risk” of becoming homeless throughout Chicago.  For the past 15 years, Featherfist has provided transitional housing services, 24-hour emergency outreach, extensive outreach to over 300 households, through comprehensive supportive services, case management and referrals, preparation for and access to permanent housing and follow-up case management for a minimum of six months.  Until 1994, Featherfist conducted outreach services using volunteers to reach the homeless living in the streets.  The volunteers provided survival kits, referral information, transportation to shelters and other service programs.  In 1990, the City of Chicago chose Featherfist as Chicago’s primary backup to conduct emergency outreach services to the homeless because Featherfist “works the streets” to help homeless individuals and families to seek shelter and moves the homeless from the streets to self-sufficiency through a comprehensive network of emergency shelters, transitional housing, and supportive services.  Featherfist has a specialized veteran case manager to address the specific needs of veterans.

Fernwood United Methodist Church — Fernwood United Methodist Church is an advocacy, support, information and education center often described as “church home” by its members and the wider community.  In addition to its spiritual mission, longtime pastor the Rev. Al Sampson, Ph.D., addresses the social needs and basic needs for food and shelter.  Fernwood United Methodist Church keeps the community informed about issues by sponsoring the newspaper Black Express, which identifies strengths and resources within the community and helps the community maintain ties to programs and services offered by the state.  Fernwood United Methodist Church identifies and assists nearly 100,000 seniors through the Metropolitan Area African-American Senior Resource Network, sponsored and housed by Fernwood United Methodist Church.  Recently, the Fernwood United Methodist Church and the Metropolitan Area African-American Senior Resource Network have started a program, Wise Elders (WE), through the Illinois Department on Aging, which trains older volunteers to reach out into their communities with information and education about programs and services that are available.

Sinai Community Institute — Through its 25 distinct programs, the Sinai Community Institute (SCI) provides a range of services such as health education, food and nutritional services, leadership development, parent training, and vocational counseling within the health-related field, case-management, intervention, prevention and outreach programs geared to improving family health and promoting wellness throughout the community.  Through its comprehensive healthcare services, SCI served over 22,000 families in FY 2006.  Additionally, 5,000 families have benefited from the Family Development drop-in center, which provides parent/child early intervention services focusing on structured playgroups for new parents, parenting education and teachable moments.  SCI was also selected as one of five agencies to provide services to the Chicagoland area’s Hurricane Katrina evacuees.

Also present at the PATH Award presentation were Rocco Claps, Director, Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR), Dr. Carol Adams, Secretary, Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS), and representatives from the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA), the Illinois Department of Aging (IDOA), and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH).

PATH Awards Presentation

Pictured above from left to right:  Bobbie Wanzo, IDHR Deputy Director;
Rocco Claps, IDHR Director; Deputy governor Louanner Peters; Recipient Bishop Dr.
Claude Porter, founder and pastor of the Proviso Baptist Church in Maywood and
Proviso-Leyden Council for Community Action, Inc., (P.L.C.C.A.); David
Quas, President, P.L.C.C.A.; Claudette P. Harrell, Sr. Executive V.P., Administration,
P.L.C.C.A., Inc.


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