HomeTRP NewsPilsen seniors succeed after 25-year fight

Pilsen seniors succeed after 25-year fight

by Ryan Kelsey
Published: April 7, 2011
Members of the greater Pilsen community came together to honor those who led a 25 year fight as they celebrated the 1st Open House of the Senior Satellite Center at Casa Maravilla located at 2021 S. Morgan St.
“This Senior Satellite Center is now open to everyone 55 and better throughout the adjacent neighborhoods,” Carmen Velasquez, Executive Director of the Alivio Medical Center said. “We hope that everyone across neighborhoods beyond Pilsen such as Little Village, Heart of Chicago, Back of the Yards, and South Loop make this center a part of their weekly wellness and social routine.  We have the courageous people here in these photos to thank for it.”
The opening of Casa Maravilla brings to the Pilsen neighborhood a comprehensive 73-unit affordable senior rental building and a Senior Satellite Center which will be operated by the Alivio Medical Center for the Department of Family and Support Services, Senior Services-Area Agency on Aging.
The development is part of a campus environment that provides a range of housing and services, including Casa Morelos, a 45-unit mixed-income rental housing complex and the adjacent Alivio Medical Center and Bienestar Pharmacy. This campus will create a strong sense of community, where residents will work to support and recognize the contributions of each other’s.
“Twenty-five years ago, this neighborhood was even younger demographically.  Young families were even younger.  New grandparents began building many of the community organizations to support the needs of young parents and children,” said Susan Vega, the Manager, Senior Programs at Alivio.  “By the time these leaders began to work on a specific space for themselves, they found that they were being short-changed.  Their fight would be longer and more grueling.”
The City has worked closely with non-profit groups, private developers and faith-based organizations to ensure that Chicago’s seniors will be able to live independently and enjoy the quality of life they deserve after a lifetime of hard work.
“This is a community that innovates,” said Mary Ellen Caron, Commissioner of the Department of Family and Support Services.  “One of the founders in this movement for Casa Maravilla and the Senior Satellite Center was named Guadalupe Reyes, founder of El Valor.  She used to say, ‘If we can’t find a way, then we will make one.’  She and many others dedicated their lives to innovating for the wonderful people in this community”.
Raul Raymundo, CEO of The Resurrection Project added, “Our mission is to challenge others to act on their faith and values.”  “Many of those who started this movement 25 years ago have sadly passed away.  Those activists even knew that was very likely that they all wouldn’t be able to walk through the doors of the building today, and they still maintained a very strong faith in their vision.  Their sacrifice made this a reality.”
“Casa Maravilla is another great example that shows that Chicago is a place where government, the private sector and the not-for-profit sector can work together to improve the quality of life for all our residents,” Mayor Daley said.
Since the doors opened recently, each week the Center is full of activity for those from near and far.  Organizations such as the National Museum of Mexican Art, the Adler School of Professional Psychology, the Growing Station Community Garden, the Goodman Theater, and University of Illinois Med Center are participating here.
“We are happy to see that over two-thirds of those participating in the City’s Golden Diners Program each weekday are from the neighboring communities,” said Teresa Fraga, Chairman of the Board for the Alivio Medical Center.
For more information, call 312-743-0493.  The Senior Satellite Center is open Mondays through Fridays from 8:30 a.m. through 4:30 p.m.