The Resurrection Project http://resurrectionproject.org The Resurrection Project Mon, 27 Oct 2014 19:37:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 Nueva Vida October 2014: The TRP Newsletter http://resurrectionproject.org/nueva-vida-october-2014-trp-newsletter/ http://resurrectionproject.org/nueva-vida-october-2014-trp-newsletter/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 19:13:35 +0000 http://resurrectionproject.org/?p=5519 From the desk of Raul… Dear friends and supporters, It’s always exciting to share with you the stories of how TRP is not just helping people improve their quality of life, but in helping people gain exposure to new opportunities and new experiences. Our college youth are a priority for us, and through our programming […]

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From the desk of Raul…

Dear friends and supporters,

RAULIt’s always exciting to share with you the stories of how TRP is not just helping people improve their quality of life, but in helping people gain exposure to new opportunities and new experiences.

Our college youth are a priority for us, and through our programming at La Casa, we are able to provide the support they need to graduate. This month we spotlight Sam, a resident at La Casa who was struggling academically. Today, he’s a successful student who is inspiring others by his example.

La Casa also helped students experience something new during a study break. In honor of Dia de los Muertos, a diverse group of students learned about this cultural tradition. Afterwards, they created an altar to honor loved ones and three TRP founding members.

We also continue to make great strides in helping to create healthy communities. Mayra was living in a cramped basement apartment when her children got sick from living there. Find out how TRP worked with Mayra to find a safer housing solution.

On the technology front, the Pilsen Portal relaunched as Chicago Voz, a new, dynamic website featuring new content and resources for the community. This is significant because it will be a new way for us to build healthy digital communities by providing access to information to the communities we serve while creating a platform to cultivate community journalists.

Over the summer, we also had an important staff change. Trish DeAnda became TRP’s Chief Operating Officer, and we wanted to spotlight Trish because her role is vital in moving our organization into its next phase of growth.

And on TRPtv, we have not one but two new episodes highlighting a housing fair and our breast cancer survivor group.

As always, thank you for your continued faith and trust in our mission to create healthy communities throughout Chicago.

Raul Raymundo
CEO,The Resurrection Project

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A mother and her children find a clean bill of health at TRP’s Casa Tabasco http://resurrectionproject.org/family-finds-happiness-health-new-apartment/ http://resurrectionproject.org/family-finds-happiness-health-new-apartment/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 15:23:33 +0000 http://resurrectionproject.org/?p=5495 by Diana Pando Mayra was living with her three children in a cramped basement apartment. The apartment was in bad shape, but when she raised concerns with the landlord, he did nothing to address them. Then her sons started to get sick. She took them to the doctor, who informed her that her children had […]

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Mayra_Q by Diana Pando

Mayra was living with her three children in a cramped basement apartment. The apartment was in bad shape, but when she raised concerns with the landlord, he did nothing to address them. Then her sons started to get sick. She took them to the doctor, who informed her that her children had high levels of lead in their systems.

Deeply concerned for her children’s health and safety and fearing it was the apartment that was making them sick, she began an apartment search. She found some that were beautiful but also well out of her price range, while others were in bad conditions.

Mayra knew the longer her family stayed in their current apartment, the worse her children’s health would get. Finally, she was referred to The Resurrection Project (TRP). She applied and was approved for an apartment. Soon after, Mayra moved her children into a three-bedroom apartment at TRP’s Casa Tabasco in the Little Village neighborhood.

“My children now have the space they need,” she says, “and they’re happy here because it’s their home.”

The move into the new apartment has also impacted her children’s health; their lead levels dropped soon after the move and they are now in good health. She attributes this to the environment they now live in.

“These are dignified apartments that are well maintained and have everything people could want,” she said of Casa Tabasco. “If there were more apartments like the ones at Casa Tabasco, TRP would continue creating even more healthy communities.”

Return to Nueva Vida October 2014 here.

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A day in the life of an organizer http://resurrectionproject.org/day-life-organizer/ http://resurrectionproject.org/day-life-organizer/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 15:23:00 +0000 http://resurrectionproject.org/?p=5499 by Isabelle Barany Here is something for you in order to understand a day in the life of an organizer at The Resurrection Project (TRP): there’s no such thing as a regular day. TRP’s staff organizers, fellows, and community leaders all epitomize the diversity of daily tasks necessary to build healthy communities. Your day might […]

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by Isabelle Barany

Here is something for you in order to understand a day in the life of an organizer at The Resurrection Project (TRP): there’s no such thing as a regular day. TRP’s staff organizers, fellows, and community leaders all epitomize the diversity of daily tasks necessary to build healthy communities.

Your day might begin with planning or leading a training for community members. The type of training depends on the organizer’s focus. For years, TRP’s organizers have held leadership development trainings in its partner parishes and schools. The two-part program first develops the participants’ confidence and communication skills, then teaches strategies to build community power. TRP also periodically leads civic trainings on the United States’ government, allowing leaders a better understanding of the democratic processes they use to create change.

Mayra López, one of TRP’s Community Organizers, manages TRP’s Parent Mentor program at five schools, along with TRP’s organizing initiatives in the Back of the Yards neighborhood. As the leader of the parent mentors, López is responsible for leading and facilitating a workshop per week for an entire school year. The program primarily works to engage parents and provide them with opportunities to become more active participants in their children’s school and neighborhood.

López facilitates presentations and brings in TRP staff and other experts to discuss leadership development and the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) system. The mentors also learned about financial wellness, physical health, and the college process. Organizers cultivate community leaders’ strengths by predicting and providing the knowledge leaders will need to be successful. This requires organizers to have one-on-ones with a community member who is considering becoming more involved.

Erendira1For Eréndira Rendón, TRP’s Head Organizer, these first meetings “establish working relationships” with others through “understanding their passion and self-interest.” Rendón also conducts one-on-ones with priests, principals, active teachers and church participants, non-profit members, and elected officials. The goal is to gain a better understanding of the needs and resources within the communities where TRP works. Equally as important, she builds partnerships. “You can’t work alone,” she says.

A bit later, your day might include canvassing, which refers to all face-to-face contact with community members. Typically, canvassers take their message to the streets, and go to public areas to talk to community members. “After a successful canvass of an area,” Rendón says, “people leave with a sense that somebody is doing something to serve them.”

Tabetha Martinez, a TRP summer fellow working with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR), helped to execute TRP’s voter registration campaign. Martinez canvassed public areas including bus stops, train stations, and parks to ask residents if they were registered. Everyone carried voter registration forms, and un-registered voters filled out their information in person with the assistance of the canvassers. Speaking in both English and Spanish, the canvassers also briefly informed constituents on key election issues

Head organizers like Rendón also attend coalition meetings. TRP is a member of ICIRR, which has been a powerful force for immigration reform throughout the state and nationally. At ICIRR’s quarterly meetings, leaders from organizations in the coalition decide which campaigns to pursue, and how each organization will contribute.

For example, TRP played a huge role in the campaign to pass legislation for Temporary Visitor Driver Licenses (TVDLs), which allows all drivers, regardless of status, to hold a license. This has made Illinois roads safer since it has reduced the number of uninsured drivers. Rendón also attends organizing meetings, where she helps to decide and plan a campaign’s actions.

OrganizingThis might take the form of attending a demonstration, gathering for a vigil, making phone calls to legislators, creating a council, or a marching outside of detention centers, or lawmakers’ offices. In the summer of 2014, TRP and its leaders participated in numerous actions, including a vigil outside of President Obama’s house for the individuals in deportation proceedings and their families.

All circled around the block while holding candles and singing softly. Among TRP leaders attending the vigil was Maria Ochoa, a Parent Mentor at Daley Elementary School. As a member of a mixed immigration status family, Ochoa is directly impacted by the lack of reform, and has participated in actions outside of detention centers, Boehner’s house in Ohio, and the White House itself. In her determination to keep insisting and asking for reform, Ochoa epitomizes the spirit of TRP’s organizing as a whole. “If we do nothing,” she says, “we won’t accomplish anything.”

Ochoa, who is a strong voice for her community and was even interviewed by Univision at the vigil, did not do any advocacy before TRP. This gives Rendón the most pride. She believes organizing can deliver life-transforming moments, as those involved become aware of their own power. It is through these moments—an interview, a speech, a registration—that organizing creates changes in the world.

Learn more about TRP’s Community Organizing Department and get involved!

 

Return to Nueva Vida October 2014 here.

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From La Casa to Your Casa: A La Casa student’s resilience inspires others http://resurrectionproject.org/la-casa-casa-la-casa-students-journey-medical-field/ http://resurrectionproject.org/la-casa-casa-la-casa-students-journey-medical-field/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 15:22:16 +0000 http://resurrectionproject.org/?p=5483 by Claudia Martinez Sam moved to La Casa Student Housing with the goal of graduating from the University In Chicago (UIC) with a neuroscience degree and applying to medical school. Since then, he has focused on his studies and has made education a priority. However, before moving to La Casa, he was a struggling high […]

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by Claudia Martinez

SAM_PHOTOSam moved to La Casa Student Housing with the goal of graduating from the University In Chicago (UIC) with a neuroscience degree and applying to medical school. Since then, he has focused on his studies and has made education a priority. However, before moving to La Casa, he was a struggling high school student who wasn’t getting the support he needed. He grappled with his studies but did not graduate on time with the rest of his classmates.

When he finally graduated, Sam moved to Texas to work and save some money. He returned to Chicago to continue his education and enrolled at Harold Washington College. However, his academic troubles continued; he ended up failing three out of four classes and getting a D in the last class.

“After that semester I was completely defeated,” said Sam. It was clear to him that he was not ready for college. On top of this, he began having family problems at home and he ended up moving out and working full-time.

Sam eventually realized that the only way he would be able to go back to get an education was with the support of his family. In the spring 2013, Sam enrolled as a full-time student at Harold Washington College and ended up doing excellent. He went from being a D student to being an exceptional student.

During this semester, Sam took his first human biology class and was completely fascinated. He was introduced to a book called County: Life Death and Politics at Chicago’s Public Hospital by David A. Ansell. Sam notes, “After reading this book, I was so inspired and realized that I too was capable of becoming a doctor.”

After another semester at Harold Washington College, Sam transferred to the University in Chicago (UIC). He joined the Hispanic Center of Excellence at UIC and over the summer was able to do undergraduate research. “This was the first real stepping stone in my medical career,” said Sam. After finishing this summer program, he joined another program called Medicina Scholars, which prepares lowerclassmen for medical school.

Currently, Sam continues his path to becoming a great candidate for medical school. He also volunteers his time with Rush Hospital and as a soccer coach for Cristo Rey. This semester he is trying to volunteer as an interpreter at a community health clinic in the West Town neighborhood.

For many students like Sam, being able to have a quiet place to study like the La Casa Resource Center is a blessing. Before coming to La Casa, he had a hard time finding a place to study because a second family lived in his parents’ home. He would spend long nights at the UIC library preparing for exams and studying. Today, things are different.

“I now have the privilege to study whenever I want,” said Sam. “The La Casa Resource Center is a great place to study and the coordinators are always willing to help.”

Despite his past academic struggles, Sam is now in an academically supportive environment and among students who understand exactly what he’s gone through. La Casa’s programs have given him all the tools and support he needs to continue being the exceptional student he is. La Casa students also look up to Sam, but what they don’t know about him is that his motivation comes from his family. Sometimes, his niece tells him she wants to be a doctor too. “Hearing her say this is what keeps me going,” he says.

Sam continues to pursue his ultimate goal of becoming a doctor in osteopathic medicine. After he graduates from medical school, he hopes to work in an underrepresented community in Chicago. There’s no doubt that with Sam’s determination, he will accomplish his dream of becoming a doctor.

Return to Nueva Vida October 2014 here.

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A Day of the Dead celebration brings La Casa students together http://resurrectionproject.org/a-day-of-the-dead-celebration-brings-la-casa-students-together/ http://resurrectionproject.org/a-day-of-the-dead-celebration-brings-la-casa-students-together/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 15:21:22 +0000 http://resurrectionproject.org/?p=5521 By Claudia Martinez On October 20, La Casa students got together for a different kind of study break. In celebration of one of Mexico’s most famous holidays, Dia de los Muertos, they built a Day of the Dead altar. Traditionally, families build altars in their homes during the weeks leading up to November 1 as […]

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By Claudia Martinez

IMG_5869On October 20, La Casa students got together for a different kind of study break. In celebration of one of Mexico’s most famous holidays, Dia de los Muertos, they built a Day of the Dead altar.

Traditionally, families build altars in their homes during the weeks leading up to November 1 as a way to celebrate and remember loved ones who have passed to the other side. In Pilsen, many events and festivities lead up to Day of the Dead, including the traditional Muertos de la Risa procession hosted by ElevArte Community Studio.

Maria Bucio, Director of La Casa Student Housing, wanted to give La Casa’s student a chance to take part in these festivities.

The study break brought students of different backgrounds together to celebrate this Mexican holiday and understand the traditions associated with it. But it did more than expose non-Latino students to this holiday. Many of the students currently at La Casa come from Mexican families but have never actually experienced the tradition of building an alter.

“I grew up knowing about it but I never celebrated it,” says Sam, a student who was born and raised in Chicago. “As a child I think I might have even confused it for Halloween.”

This is the problem many second- and third-generation Latinos face today: not being really connected to their traditions. La Casa events like these gave students the opportunity to embrace their culture.

“It connects us to our ancestors and families,” says Maria Bucio. “Sometimes it is not until we get to universities that we get exposed to these traditions.”

The altar honoring those who have passed is scheduled to be up until November 3rd and it is dedicated to three TRP co-founders and pioneers as well as loved ones of La Casa students.

Bucio plans to make this an annual tradition for La Casa students, but wants to make sure it doesn’t just stop there.

“This won’t be the only tradition that we have,” she says. “We will continue to celebrate the different cultures that we have at La Casa by doing something for Chinese New Year and Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Anything that celebrates diversity is definitely worth celebrating.”

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Return to Nueva Vida October 2014 here.

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TRP staff spotlight: Trish DeAnda http://resurrectionproject.org/trp-staff-spotlight-trish-deanda/ http://resurrectionproject.org/trp-staff-spotlight-trish-deanda/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 15:14:06 +0000 http://resurrectionproject.org/?p=5527 Meet our Chief Operating Officer! by Diana Pando Whether you see Trish DeAnda at meetings or at community events, she is always smiling with enthusiasm for the work she is doing at The Resurrection Project (TRP). Recently, Trish became TRP’s Chief Operating Officer. What you might not know about Trish is that she grew up […]

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Meet our Chief Operating Officer!

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by Diana Pando

Whether you see Trish DeAnda at meetings or at community events, she is always smiling with enthusiasm for the work she is doing at The Resurrection Project (TRP). Recently, Trish became TRP’s Chief Operating Officer. What you might not know about Trish is that she grew up in the border town of McAllen, Texas. Her father worked at the post office and her mom stayed home to take care of Trish and her siblings.

Trish ended up in Chicago and began working in the fast-paced corporate world. After a while, she realized that her heart just wasn’t into it anymore. She needed to do something different. A colleague told her about the work TRP was doing in the community. Since then, for almost a decade, she has been part of TRP and has witnessed its growth.

Trish remembers when there were only 20 TRP employees and they didn’t even have a computer server. It was also a difficult time due to staff turnover. However, it was also a time of opportunity. “We had to roll up our sleeves,” she says, “and help build TRP’s infrastructure. Today we can see the fruits of our labor as we continue to grow.”

In her new role as Chief Operating Officer, she continues to oversee good financial stewardship and make sure employees have the resources they need to do their jobs successfully. Trish is also more involved with the groundwork and programmatic pieces. Being at TRP has helped Trish learn and grow professionally but also she has met a lot of great people along the way. “TRP’s mission speaks to my heart,” she says. “I feel lucky to be here.”

For TRP’s upcoming 25th Anniversary, she anticipates TRP will be knee-deep in the communities they serve. “It’s an opportunity for these communities,” she says, “because it’s a way to continue to build new partnerships and provide more access to resources and tools.”

TRP’s work and programs are all interconnected and impact families. According to Trish, having a supportive family, a good environment, and a safe place to live contributes to children’s educational success. “The work we do in these areas,” she says, “provides a foundation so kids don’t have to worry if they will have a home.”

Professionally she encourages everyone to get a mentor because it’s an important component of her success. “I was lucky to have mentors at a young age,” she says. “Having mentors also allows you to call on them when you have a complex problem.”  Trish is a mentor to several people as a result of her own experiences as a mentee.

When she’s not working at TRP, she still finds the time to support the work of other organizations. She is on an advisory board for Elmhurst College and teaches there. She is also the co-chair of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s Latino Alliance initiative. To balance everything she does professionally, she tries to carve out time to do things she loves. Sometimes you can find her at the Bloomingdale Golf Course, on her bike, or having dinner with friends.

She feels blessed to work with really smart people working for a mission and not a paycheck first. “There’s heart in the work we do,” she says. “It’s okay to lead with my heart and my values because you are surrounded by others doing the same.”

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Return to Nueva Vida October 2014 here.

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The Pilsen Portal relaunches as Chicago Voz http://resurrectionproject.org/new-chicago-voz-pilsen-community-pilsen-portal-relaunches-chicago-voz/ http://resurrectionproject.org/new-chicago-voz-pilsen-community-pilsen-portal-relaunches-chicago-voz/#comments Wed, 15 Oct 2014 14:18:26 +0000 http://resurrectionproject.org/?p=5480       This month Pilsen residents and businesses will have access to more hyperlocal news about their community. The Pilsen Portal, a community news portal, is being relaunched as Chicago Voz. The relaunched community news site will officially launch on October 15, 2014. This exciting new expansion of the hyperlocal site will increase its […]

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This month Pilsen residents and businesses will have access to more hyperlocal news about their community. The Pilsen Portal, a community news portal, is being relaunched as Chicago Voz. The relaunched community news site will officially launch on October 15, 2014. This exciting new expansion of the hyperlocal site will increase its neighborhood news coverage and access to resources. “I’m very excited we are relaunching the Pilsen Portal as Chicago Voz,” says Luiz Magaña, Chicago Voz Digital Communications Coordinator, “because we plan to focus on writing more  articles that impact our community.”

The focus of Chicago Voz is to tell stories relevant to these communities and highlight local businesses, organizations, artists, writers and community leaders that continue to shape our neighborhoods. It will also serve as an incubator for community journalists by providing free community journalism workshops and providing emerging journalists a platform to publish their articles. “We see Chicago Voz as an opportunity to become an important outlet for residents and non-residents to get information,” said Magaῆa, “as well as for emerging community writers to find an outlet to share their voice through.”

The new name is reflective of Chicago Voz’s mission to work closer with community writers, journalists, and artists so that the diverse voices of the neighborhood can be represented across the city and create healthy digital communities. “We are proud to say that Chicago Voz is ‘The Voice of Pilsen in Chicago’,” said Magaῆa.

The original Pilsen Portal began in 2009 as part of the Smart Communities program and the Broadband Technology and Opportunities program. It was also a byproduct of the Pilsen Planning Committee and an extension of the Pilsen Quality of Life Plan. With the support of LISC Chicago and the McCormick Foundation, the Pilsen Portal was able to expand beyond a community website to become a site that allows greater Chicago to visit the beautiful Pilsen neighborhood.

Chicago Voz is an independent community website managed by an editorial board that makes decisions on the content created and published. In the near future, Chicago Voz will also be expanding into neighborhoods like Back of the Yards, Little Village and other neighborhoods. This website is managed by The Resurrection Project (TRP), a nonprofit community development organization. However, all opinions made by Chicago Voz do not reflect those of The Resurrection Project. Visit ChicagoVoz.com

If you are interested in being a contributor for Chicago Voz, please contact admin@chicagovoz.org.

For media inquiries, contact Diana Pando at 312-880-1140 or at dpando@resurrectionproject.org.

Return to Nueva Vida October 2014 here.

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Nueva Vida September 2014: The TRP Newsletter http://resurrectionproject.org/nueva-vida-september-2014-trp-newsletter/ http://resurrectionproject.org/nueva-vida-september-2014-trp-newsletter/#comments Thu, 25 Sep 2014 15:57:55 +0000 http://resurrectionproject.org/?p=5434 From the desk of Raul… Dear friends and supporters, At TRP, we take a comprehensive approach to creating healthy communities. But we also understand that whether you own your home or rent, housing is the backbone of any healthy community. A stable home environment can positively impact a family’s quality of life, leading the path […]

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From the desk of Raul…

Dear friends and supporters,

RAULAt TRP, we take a comprehensive approach to creating healthy communities. But we also understand that whether you own your home or rent, housing is the backbone of any healthy community. A stable home environment can positively impact a family’s quality of life, leading the path to economic success, a good career, and better academic achievement.

So it’s always encouraging to hear stories like the ones in this newsletter about families who improved their living situation through one of our programs or services. The Diaz family, who are lifelong Pilsen residents, were on the verge of losing their home.They decided to come to TRP for help and were able to find the solutions they needed to be able to keep their home. A determined mom and tenant at Casa Morelos also shared her story of moving into the neighborhood to keep her son safe from youth violence.

Healthy communities also need engaged, empowered youth. Our afterschool program at Orozco recently offered a photojournalism program where students used photography to spotlight life and issues in our communities. Meanwhile, college students at La Casa have been learning new skills in our TRP internship program that’s helping them get the hands-on experience they need to succeed.

We continue to find new ways of sharing our stories with you.This month’s TRPtv episode covers the Entrepreneur Training Program TRP offered to help small businesses. We also redesigned our website to make it easier for you to learn about TRP and even how to get involved in the work we do.We also recently joined Pinterest to share photos of our work with you.We encourage you to share these new channels with your networks.

As always, thank you for your continued faith and trust in our mission to create healthy communities throughout Chicago’s Southwest side.

Raul Raymundo
CEO,The Resurrection Project

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A family saves their home and sends a special thank you http://resurrectionproject.org/family-brink-foreclosure-finds-hope/ http://resurrectionproject.org/family-brink-foreclosure-finds-hope/#comments Tue, 23 Sep 2014 20:21:59 +0000 http://resurrectionproject.org/?p=5409 by Diana Pando It was just before the holidays in November of 2013 when the Diaz family began to experience financial hardship. Mr. Diaz, a life-long resident of Pilsen, had trouble finding work as a roofer. They had purchased their home for their children’s future so that they didn’t have to worry about renting, but […]

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by Diana Pando

It was just before the holidays in November of 2013 when the Diaz family began to experience financial hardship. Mr. Diaz, a life-long resident of Pilsen, had trouble finding work as a roofer. They had purchased their home for their children’s future so that they didn’t have to worry about renting, but now that was in jeopardy. The family began to fall behind on payments and struggled to keep up.

homesMr. Diaz knew he needed to find help so he contacted The Resurrection Project and began working with Lizette Carretero, TRP’s Home Preservation Specialist. “Preventing a foreclosure affects a whole community,” says Carretero. “By putting equity back into the communities, we can create sustainable neighborhoods for continued growth.”

She began working with them to try and find solutions, but the Diaz family felt like they were running out of time to save their home. They had started receiving intent to foreclose letters from the bank’s attorneys. “It was a difficult time for my family,” said Mr. Diaz. “We thought we were going to lose our home and weren’t sure where we would end up.” They desperately needed a loan modification to try and save their home.

The loan modification would provide long-term assistance on their payments by extending the loan up to 40 years. However, despite submitting all the necessary paperwork, they were still not approved. Lizette researched a new regulation prohibiting banks from referring clients to foreclosure while under review for a loan modification.

After confirming her suspicions, she contacted the HAMP Solution Center and made them aware that the bank was violating regulations and referring the borrowers to foreclosure. According to Mr. Diaz, “If it wasn’t for Lizette taking her time to work on this case, I don’t know what we would have done.”

LizetteWithin a month of filing the notice, the Diaz family was granted a HAMP modification that reduced their payment by over $400. “It’s a big relief we got the loan modification,” says Diaz. “We’re happy because we get to keep our home.”

The family was so happy, they sent Lizette a bouquet of flowers for all her help. Lizette, for her part, is happy to have helped another family keep their home.

“We are here to educate and provide assistance no matter how advanced their foreclosure may be,” she says. “The best part about it is that our services are free!”

Families on the verge of foreclosure should seek help immediately by communicating with their lender and opening all correspondence. To learn more about TRP’s foreclosure prevention counseling, visit www.resurrectionproject.org.

 

Return to Nueva Vida September 2014 here.

 

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Orozco students engage with their community through photojournalism http://resurrectionproject.org/orozco-students-engage-community-photojournalism/ http://resurrectionproject.org/orozco-students-engage-community-photojournalism/#comments Tue, 23 Sep 2014 20:00:27 +0000 http://resurrectionproject.org/?p=5405 by Isabelle Baraney When Adam Jason Cohen, a freelance photographer, was looking at the images from his afterschool photojournalism class, he wasn’t surprised by the skill of his Orozco Elementary School students. Instead he was struck by their understanding of issues like violence. Cohen recalls, “I was just really surprised to find out how quickly […]

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by Isabelle Baraney

photojourn4When Adam Jason Cohen, a freelance photographer, was looking at the images from his afterschool photojournalism class, he wasn’t surprised by the skill of his Orozco Elementary School students. Instead he was struck by their understanding of issues like violence. Cohen recalls, “I was just really surprised to find out how quickly the kids had to grow up.”

For years, The Resurrection Project (TRP) has partnered with organizations and individuals to provide quality afterschool programming to Orozco’s students. In the 2013-2014 school year, TRP worked with experts to offer over 15 types of classes, including Cohen’s photojournalism class. Over a 10-week period, students completed a photojournalism project focusing on health and safety in Pilsen. Students documented examples of these goals and challenges in Orozco’s neighborhood.

photojourn3The idea for the project came when Cohen, who has documented conflict for his own work, realized this could be an excellent way for his students to document a topic they were familiar with. Many students are lifelong Pilsen residents who have been observing the neighborhood and its changes. Cohen envisioned the project as a way for his students to demonstrate “things they have to deal with when they’re walking back to their home from school.” Over the course of the program, Cohen and a parent chaperone took his class on field trips in Pilsen in search of stories to photograph.

Processed with VSCOcam with b5 presetThe students also learned inside the classroom by studying examples of famous photojournalism, and discussed why photojournalism is important. Cohen defines photojournalism as “visual reportage,” an image functioning as an article, to inform the consumer on a subject or issue. The instantaneous nature of photography is becoming even more relevant in our increasingly digital and fast-paced society where social media informs readers alongside print media. In the future, understanding how to create and shape images will be increasingly vital for creating and shaping stories.

Orozco’s students will be well prepared for this shift, as they completed their project using entirely digital material. They photographed on the school’s iPads, and then used software to edit them. One photograph shows a sign banning guns, and juxtaposes the bright red and white of the signage against an almost completely black background. Another photograph shows a woman’s hand placing peppers into a bag that she purchased from a street vendor, making the peppers look more obtuse and obscured. Another photograph shows a security camera perched on a building. Due to the dark filter and angle, the camera looks disconcertingly like an eye. All of the images carry messages, compelling the viewer to feel something. As Cohen notes, “These are real issues that these kids live with.”

The students gained an understanding not just of why photojournalism is important, but also why journalism as a whole is important. Or, in the words of Cohen, “why showing people what’s going on in the world is good.” His end goal was to make his students aware. By expressing these perspectives, students can encourage others to be more conscious as well. “By making people look at something in a certain way,” Cohen says, “you make them think.”

By the end of the program, Cohen felt he had accomplished the overall goal. When he talked to his students about his own work, they were ready with answers as to why he did what he did. Not only were they equipped with knowledge on their neighborhoods, they were equipped with knowledge on a way to share it. This made for a powerful combination. “They understood what was going on in the world,” Cohen says.

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Return to Nueva Vida September 2014 here.

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