United Power for Action & Justice

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United Power for Action and Justice Meeting on Reclaiming Communities
(Reclaiming SW Chicago, Reclaiming Lawndale, and Reclaiming Back of the Yards)

Sunday February 2, 2020

12:15pm (after 11am Mass) - 1:45pm
Pine Room (Enter Door 1 at 601 Van Buren Street and follow the stairs leading down)


Join fellow parishioners as we take time to reconnect, to get an update on where our efforts stand on Reclaiming SW Chicago, and to discuss what we need to do this year to continue the effort to create affordable homes, safe streets, and good schools in Chicago Lawn and to assist in beginning similar work in North Lawndale and Back of the Yards. Some of our friends from SWOP and St. Rita’s Parish and other United Power faith institutions will be with us.

We need your ideas and input for the year ahead and we will also need your assistance to continue to make this effort a reality. Questions? Email Nick at nbrunick@att-law.com



United Power is a non-partisan community organization composed of 40 religious congregations, not-for-profit groups, hospitals, health centers and civic organizations from across Cook County. Ascension Parish is a member of this organization. 

United Power brings people together across boundaries of race, class, faith, geography, and political ideology to act together on their values and to work on common issues of concern identified by people in United Power’s member institutions.  Issues worked on by United Power include creating affordable housing for the disabled, working families and seniors, rebuilding communities struggling with vacancy and violence, reducing gun violence, immigration, access to health care, and addressing government corruption.  United Power also works to help its members strengthen their own institutions (e.g. parishes, synagogues, mosques, schools and community organizations).

Volunteers with United Power work together to craft concrete and realistic solutions to large and difficult public issues.  Most recently, Ascension has worked with United Power on  successful efforts to create affordable homes, safe streets, and good schools on the Southwest Side of Chicago (through the Reclaiming SW Chicago campaign) and to expand this campaign to the North Lawndale neighborhood. For more information visit the United Power website at http://www.united-power.org/, or contact parishioner Nick Brunick at nbrunick@att-law.com.

On Sunday, September 22nd, 2019, over 1000 people of faith and good will from across Cook County gathered to show their support for creating a better City and region – by reclaiming our neighborhoods, by expanding on smart mental health solutions, and by using creative approaches to reduce gun violence.


United Power laid out the results of its work on these issues and asked Mayor Lightfoot to join us in these efforts. 


The Mayor expressed her strong desire to work with United Power on these and other issues. 


See below for some good coverage of the event from ABC 7 news:



Thanks for United Power’s organizing efforts, the Crisis Stabilization Unit (CSU) is finally open at Holy Cross Hospital! 


It will provide essential mental health services in the community – which will prevent the mis-incarceration of the mentally ill, assist law enforcement in their efforts to keep us safe, save taxpayer dollars, and bring much-needed care to those in need.


As you know, the state’s Medicaid reimbursement for CSU’s had fallen to $8 a day and the brand new facility at Holy Cross therefore had been sitting vacant and the state was not acting to resolve the issue.  Thanks to everyone’s efforts through United Power, we were able to get the attention of the Governor and several key legislators from both parties, who worked with us to resolve this issue.


Below please find a link to a WGN story on the grand opening from last week; our friend Imelda Salazar (from St. Rita’s and SWOP) joined Governor Pritzker at the podium and spoke at the event on behalf of SWOP and United Power.




United Power and SWOP had a successful event at St. Rita’s with Cardinal Cupich on June 7th – to celebrate the successes achieved thus far by Reclaiming SW Chicago and to help raise the profile of this effort so that we can complete the work on the SW Side and spread this effort to other locations. 


Over 250 people (from St. Rita’s, SWOP, Ascension, and United Power) joined together for an interfaith prayer service, a tour of the neighborhood, and a discussion with Cardinal Cupich in the rectory at St. Rita’s focusing on how we can act together as people of faith to rebuild our communities.


An article from Chicago Catholic is below.  There was some other good media attention that day as well.



You may have caught some other recent coverage of Reclaiming SW Chicago as well.  There was an article in the Sun-Times that highlighted United Power and SWOP’s victory of securing $12 million in the state’s capital budget for furthering the work of Reclaiming SW Chicago.


And there was a recent ABC-7 news piece that highlighted some of the new homeowners who have purchased homes rehabbed by SWOP.  Please see below for that story:




Finally, in June, a group of Ascension ASP youth leaders (and some Ascension ASP adult leaders) went to SWOP and met with a group of SWOP youth leaders (and a few adults) to get to know each other and to explore the possibility of doing a joint service project in the neighborhood as part of Reclaiming SW Chicago.


The youth from SWOP and Ascension decided to focus on finding a vacant lot in the community and then working together to secure and beautify that lot.  SWOP is now working to identify that vacant lot and then the group will reconvene to plan out what they plan to do together. Stay tuned for more details on this front and for a possible service day in the near future.


Ascension’s ASP traveled to Appalachia this last July wearing T-shirts made by Magnolia Screen Printing – which is the T-shirt and silk-screening operation that was incubated by SWOP and is now running independently out of its own space on 63rd Street.  It is owned by a local entrepreneur and it employs young men in the neighborhood.


Finally, with the funds that we raised last year through United Power for Reclaiming SW Chicago, SWOP is in the process of rehabbing 6 ownership homes and will soon begin rehabbing 17 apartments (some of which are over three storefronts on 63rd Street that will also be rehabbed).  One of these storefronts will become the new home of Magnolia Screen Printing.  Stay tuned for more information on these homes and apartments as rehab begins and as these new homes are sold!