SOUTH SHORE — A South Shore group is using Thanksgiving to build bridges between longtime neighbors and migrants and others who have recently arrived to the community.
Youth sports nonprofit Lost Boyz Inc. and the city-backed My Chi. My Future youth program will host a Thanksgiving celebration 4 p.m. Saturday at the Frank Sartin SBYD Community Center, 1818 E. 71st St. in South Shore.
Alongside holiday meals, B. Cole and his “League of Extraordinary Comedians” will put on a bilingual comedy show, while DJ Q.Mac will handle the music. The event will feature a resource room where local agencies will help attendees find the goods and services they need, Lost Boyz founder LaVonté Stewart said.
“Breaking bread together does wonderful things,” Stewart said. “… We want to bring new arrivals that are going to stay into our community into our fold and flock — and into the rest of the community.”
Asylum seekers and other migrants staying at the South Chicago (3rd) District police station and the Wadsworth temporary shelter will receive free transportation to and from the event. To register for the celebration, click here.
Translators and community leaders will be seated at each table to encourage storytelling and conversations between locals and new arrivals, Stewart said.
“We want to learn … how did you get here, how many children, what do you want out of Chicago, do you want to stay in this neighborhood — so we can better assess how, as a community, we can help each of them,” he said.
How To Help Migrants
• The city has partnered with Instituto del Progreso Latino to create an Amazon wishlist where people can buy supplies for migrants.
• Anyone who wants to donate extra furniture can fill out a form requesting Chicago Furniture Bank pick it up.
• Read more: How To Help Migrants In Chicago As Winter Approaches
Organizers initially planned to only offer transportation to and from the police station. But there’s been “a seismic shift in folks out there,” and the bus will now include the Wadsworth shelter, Stewart said. Staffers have visited both locations to hand out event flyers, he said.
About 1,800 people were sheltering at police stations as of Wednesday, according to city data. That’s about 1,500 fewer than last month, as out-of-state buses with migrants arrive to Chicago less frequently and the city expands its shelter program.
Saturday’s gathering encourages South Shore residents to welcome asylum seekers and migrants, as the influx of new arrivals has divided the community, Stewart said.
Neighbors opposed to a temporary shelter for migrants at the old South Shore High School have so far been successful in preventing the shelter from opening.
Packed meetings about the South Shore shelter and others in nearby Woodlawn and Kenwood drew severe pushback and loud xenophobia from some residents, while others have organized to provide mutual aid to people living in South Side migrant shelters.
“If they’re going to be here and stay here, don’t these children need the same things that we’re saying the Black children in our community need?” Stewart said. “It’s more than a no-brainer to extend an olive branch.”
Migrants and others living at the 3rd District and at Wadsworth “didn’t say, ‘Let’s go [to Chicago] and take jobs, money, Link cards” and other resources from existing residents, Stewart said. He hopes this weekend’s celebration can encourage all in the community to push for the resources they need, he said.
“This scarcity conversation around resources has become sketchy,” Stewart said. “… There doesn’t have to be a competition [between] this agenda and the Black agenda.”
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