- Created on 09 January 2013
Since the onset of "Christmas in the Wards" in 1996, our passion and vision has been to enrich and uplift the lives of children and deserving families in the community during the holiday season. This is the community from which we hail, in which we live, and love to serve.
As sponsors, you have supported our love, nurtured our vision, and enriched the lives of thousands of families through your generosity. We are humbled that giving partnerships from organizations like A. Finkl Steel, BMO Harris Bank, Chicago Cubs, Chicago Defender, Chicago Football Classic, ComEd, Dental Dream Team, Johnston Greene LLC, Linn-Mathes Inc., Madison Construction, McHugh Construction, Midway Wholesalers, Ozinga, Prairie Material, Riteway-Huggins Construction, SCR Transportation, SMG, State Farm, The Community Builders, Walgreens, Wal-Mart, and numerous others have allowed us to raise and sow over 1 million dollars over the past 16 years.
We live by our motto "It takes a city to do what we do". For without you, we truly know that what we do is not possible. Again, we thank you!
- Created on 04 January 2013
(CNNMoney) -- Employers may be hiring, but there's another big problem with the job market that isn't being tracked as closely: the hopelessly unemployed.
An often overlooked number calculated by the Labor Department shows millions of Americans want a job but haven't searched for one in at least a year. They've simply given up hope.
They're not counted as part of the labor force, the official unemployment rate, or the category the Labor Department refers to as "discouraged workers" -- those who haven't bothered to look for work in the last four weeks.
These hopelessly unemployed workers have just been jobless so long, they've fallen off the main government measures altogether.
"The way we're measuring the long-term unemployed has a lot of holes in it," said Stephen Bronars, senior economist for Welch Consulting. "A person can be discouraged for a while, but then gets bumped over into this other category."
The Labor Department started tracking this group in 1994, but it doesn't get much attention. Recently, it has started growing more rapidly than usual, even as other job measures have shown improvement.
Five years ago, before the recession began, about 2.5 million people said they wanted a job but hadn't searched for one in at least a year. Now, that number is above 3.3 million.
"We have always had a set of people who want a job but for whatever reason are not looking," said Heidi Shierholz, economist with the Economic Policy Institute. "But this recession was so severe and job opportunities are still so weak, this group is growing because of that."
Who are the hopelessly unemployed?
"It's hard to say exactly who these people might be," Bronars said. That's because they say they want to work, but also say they aren't looking. The questioning doesn't go much deeper than that.
Call them "super discouraged workers," said Erik Hurst, economist at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
It's likely that they'd prefer to work, but just don't think they can find a job and have other means or responsibilities with which to occupy their time.
One explanation for the growing number of hopelessly unemployed workers could be age. The fastest growing demographic in the category is workers over age 55, who typically have a harder time finding new jobs. That could include older workers who would prefer to remain on the job but were pushed into early retirement because of the recession.
Another part of the problem may be explained by parents who take time off to raise a family, but then postpone their plans to re-enter the job market because of the weak economy.
Others could be students who want jobs, but gave up on the search and decided to go back to school instead, hoping for better job opportunities down the road.
Ignoring the hopeless might make it seem like the long-term unemployment problem in the United States is slowly improving.
The unemployment rate is at its lowest level since 2008, and the number of people unemployed for six months or more has dropped. Plus, the number of so-called "discouraged workers" has also fallen.
But the growing number of hopelessly unemployed is worrisome. Studies widely show the longer a person is unemployed, the weaker his or her chances are of getting a job.
At some point, long-term unemployment can lead workers to become permanently detached from the labor force. That's not good for the economy.
"We know we have this huge pool of missing workers," Shierholz said. "And we are not yet in a labor market that draws people in."
- Created on 02 January 2013
(AP) — As New Year's Day approached 150 years ago, all eyes were on President Abraham Lincoln in expectation of what he warned 100 days earlier would be coming — his final proclamation declaring all slaves in states rebelling against the Union to be "forever free."
A tradition began Dec. 31, 1862, as many black churches held Watch Night services, awaiting word that Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation would take effect amid a bloody Civil War. Later, congregations listened as the president's historic words were read aloud.
The proclamation would not end slavery outright and at the time couldn't be enforced by Lincoln in areas under Confederate control. But the president made clear from that day forward that his forces would be fighting to bring the Union back together without the institution of slavery.
Lincoln issued his preliminary Emancipation Proclamation in September 1862, after the Battle of Antietam, announcing that if rebel states did not cease fighting and rejoin the Union by Jan. 1, 1863, all slaves in rebellious states or parts of states would be declared free from that date forward.
This year, the Watch Night tradition will follow the historic document to its home at the National Archives with a special midnight display planned with readings, songs and bell ringing among the nation's founding documents.
The official document bears Lincoln's signature and the United States seal, setting it apart from copies and drafts. It will make a rare public appearance from Sunday to Tuesday — New Year's Day — for thousands of visitors to mark its anniversary. On New Year's Eve, the display will remain open past midnight as 2013 arrives.
"We will be calling back to an old tradition," said U.S. Archivist David Ferriero, noting the proclamation's legacy. "When you see thousands of people waiting in line in the dark and cold ... we know that they're not there just for words on paper.
"On this 150th anniversary, we recall those who struggled with slavery in this country, the hope that sustained them and the inspiration the Emancipation Proclamation has given to those who seek justice."
The National Archives allows 100 visitors at a time into its rotunda, where the Emancipation Proclamation will be displayed along with the Constitution and Declaration of Independence. On the busiest days, 8,000 people file through for a glimpse of the founding charters.
Performances and re-enactments are scheduled to continue throughout New Year's Day. The U.S. Postal Service will unveil a new Emancipation Proclamation stamp as well.
This special display is just one of many commemorations planned in Washington and in churches nationwide to mark the anniversary of Lincoln's actions to end slavery and end the Civil War.
President Lincoln's Cottage in Washington, where the 16th president spent much of his time and where he began drafting the proclamation, is displaying a signed copy of the document through February. It also will host its own New Year's Eve celebration.
The Library of Congress will display the first draft handwritten by Lincoln. It will be on display for six weeks beginning Jan. 3 in the library's exhibit, "The Civil War in America," which features many personal letters and diaries from the era.
Also, the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture just opened its newest exhibition, "Changing America," to recount the 1863 emancipation of slaves and the 1963 March on Washington for Civil Rights. It includes a rare signed copy of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution that ultimately abolished slavery.
The Watch Night tradition also continues at many sites Monday night.
In Washington, the Metropolitan A.M.E. Church, where abolitionist Frederick Douglass was a member, will host a special 150th anniversary service.
History lovers say this is a chance to remember what the Emancipation Proclamation actually signified.
Lincoln wrote in part: "I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States, and parts of States, are, and henceforward, shall be free."
He went on to say the military would recognize the freedom of slaves, that freed slaves should avoid violence and that freed slaves could enlist in the U.S. armed forces. It did not immediately free a single slave, though, because Lincoln didn't have the power to enforce the declaration in the Confederacy. Still, many slaves had already been freeing themselves, and the document gave them protection, said Reginald Washington, an archivist of African-American history at the National Archives.
"It was a first, important step in paving the way for the abolishment of slavery with the ratification of the 13th Amendment," he said.
It also brought "a fundamental change in the character of the war," Washington said. "With the stroke of Lincoln's pen, a war to preserve the union had overnight become a war of human liberation."
The proclamation became a symbol of hope for nearly 4 million slaves and a confirmation that the war should be fought to secure their freedom, said Washington, who is retiring from the Archives after nearly 40 years. Some historians and scholars have come to view to proclamation as one of the most important documents in U.S. history.
The final proclamation has been rarely shown because it was badly damaged decades ago by long exposure to light. After it was signed at the White House, it was kept at the State Department for many years with other presidential proclamations. In 1936, it was transferred to the National Archives.
Records show it was displayed between 1947 and 1949 in a "Freedom Train" exhibit that traveled the country. Then it was shown briefly in January 1963 to mark the 100th anniversary of its signing.
It wasn't until 1993 that the Emancipation Proclamation has been shown more regularly to the public. In the past decade, it has been shown in 10 other museums and libraries nationwide for no more than three days at a time to limit its exposure to light. A 2011 exhibition at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Mich., that was open around the clock drew lines amounting to eight-hour waits to see the document.
Conservators rotate which of the five pages are shown to limit their light exposure. In Washington, they will display pages two and five, which is Lincoln's signature page. High-quality copies are shown in place of the other original pages.
"It's rarely shown, and that's part of our strategy for preserving it and making it accessible," said Catherine Nicholson, an archives conservator. "Our goal is to keep its current condition so that it can be enjoyed not only by people today, but by future generations."
- Created on 03 January 2013
2013 is the year that Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech turns 50, reports Ellen Freudenheim on Huffington Post.
A half-century ago, it was a radical notion that a black man in America could have any kind of big dream at all, outside the realms of sports, music and entertainment.
Yet on Monday, January 21, 2013, which is Martin Luther King Day, we will see the second term inauguration of America's first-ever black president. Talk about historical synergy.
Toward the end of this speech, Dr. King envisioned an improbable goal, "to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood."
Now, that's what I call a New Year's resolution.
2013: A Year of Landmark Civil Rights Anniversaries
In fact, this year there are several important civil rights anniversaries. 2013 marks, among others:
- the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation (1863).
- 150th anniversary of the placement of the Statue of Freedom atop the Capitol Dome (1863).
- 50th anniversary of the "I Have a Dream" speech (1963).
- 50th anniversary of the murder of NAACP leader Medgar Evers and riots in Birmingham after the murder of four girls at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church (1963).
- the inauguration of the first black American president to his second term (2013).
And, as a reminder of the sometimes-terrible costs of change, 2013 is also the 50th anniversary of the assassination of another young president, JFK.
More Than Just History, the "I Have a Dream" Speech Still Resonates
Progressives may be less than thrilled with various policy compromises made by this administration. But the historicity of Obama's second inauguration cannot be denied. Juxtaposed with Dr. King's speech, Obama's presidency proves that in a democracy, progress can be made -- albeit achingly slowly, at great cost and, in the end, with greatly imperfect outcomes.
As we head into January policy battles -- over the unfinished business of the fiscal cliff, over legislation to be introduced by Sen. Feinstein on gun control and assault weapons, and other issues -- the narrative of Dr. King's too-short life is a reminder that when redressing a power imbalance, progress is not given; it must be won.
Standing in Washington, D.C. and addressing the largest civil rights demonstration this nation had ever seen, Dr. King said in his famous 1963 speech:
"In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt."
For Americans old enough to recall the civil rights era -- millions of baby boomers over age 50 or so -- this speech represents one of the iconic struggles of our nation in the second half of the 20th century. Among those watching President Obama forge a path in his second term are many who can personally bear witness to Dr. King's stature. For instance, Dr. King's friend and supporter Harry Belafonte, the singer-activist, will give a keynote address at this year's Brooklyn Academy of Music's 27th annual Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the largest such event in New York City.
2013 New Year's Resolution, Not About the Personal but About the Political
As a soundbite, the title of the "I Have a Dream" speech has passed into the vernacular of American language. We understand the shorthand of the title; it's a call to our better selves, for the dissolution of injustice.
But how many know that Dr. King, with a phraseology reminiscent of the biblical prophets, also said, "This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism?" Or, "There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, 'When will you be satisfied?'"
With a president who sometimes seems to need a caffeine jolt to his inner radical, the "I Have a Dream Speech" speech reads like an activists' wake up alarm. Tens of thousands of grassroots activists worked hard to win this president's reelection. With Obama's inauguration in a few weeks, can we revitalize the profound calling in Kings' speech to really tackle the struggles we face today -- a polarized Congress, a Tea Party-infused Republican right, high unemployment, a regressive attack on women's rights to our own bodies, a decades-long epidemic of gun violence in our inner cities, a fragmented healthcare system? In the second term of our first black presidency, can we not just honor Dr. King's words as history, but infect ourselves with his passion for creating the change we believe in?
Along with losing weight and exercising more, make a political New Year's resolution this year. But first, for inspiration and vision, read Dr. King's speech.
- Created on 31 December 2012
(AP) — Recalling the shooting rampage that killed 20 first graders as the worst day of his presidency, President Barack Obama pledged to put his "full weight" behind legislation aimed at preventing gun violence.
Obama voiced skepticism about the National Rifle Association's proposal to put armed guards in schools following the Dec. 14 tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. The president made his comments Saturday in an interview that aired Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press."
Instead, the president vowed to rally the American people around an agenda to limit gun violence, adding that he still supports increased background checks and bans on assault weapons and high-capacity bullet magazines. He left no doubt it will be one of his top priorities next year.
"It is not enough for us to say, 'This is too hard so we're not going to try,'" Obama said.
"I think there are a vast majority of responsible gun owners out there who recognize that we can't have a situation in which somebody with severe psychological problems is able to get the kind of high capacity weapons that this individual in Newtown obtained and gun down our kids," he added. "And, yes, it's going to be hard."
The president added that he's ready to meet with Republicans and Democrats, anyone with a stake in the issue.
The schoolhouse shootings, coming as families prepared for the holidays, have elevated the issue of gun violence to the forefront of public attention. Six adult staff members were also killed at the elementary school. Shooter Adam Lanza committed suicide, apparently as police closed in. Earlier, he had killed his mother at the home they shared.
The tragedy immediately prompted calls for greater gun controls. But the NRA is strongly resisting those efforts, arguing instead that schools should have armed guards for protection. Some gun enthusiasts have rushed to buy semiautomatic rifles of the type used by Lanza, fearing sales may soon be restricted.
Obama seemed unimpressed by the NRA proposal. "I am skeptical that the only answer is putting more guns in schools," he said. "And I think the vast majority of the American people are skeptical that that somehow is going to solve our problem."
The president said he intends to press the issue with the public.
"The question then becomes whether we are actually shook up enough by what happened here that it does not just become another one of these routine episodes where it gets a lot of attention for a couple of weeks and then it drifts away," Obama said. "It certainly won't feel like that to me. This is something that - you know, that was the worst day of my presidency. And it's not something that I want to see repeated."
Separately, a member of the president's cabinet said Sunday that rural America may be ready to join a national conversation about gun control. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the debate has to start with respect for the Second Amendment right to bear arms and recognition that hunting is a way of life for millions of Americans.
But Vilsack said Newtown has changed the way people see the issue. "I really believe that this is a different circumstance and a different situation," Vilsack said on CNN.
Vilsack said he thinks it's possible for Americans to come together. "It's potentially a unifying conversation," he said. "The problem is that these conversations are always couched in the terms of dividing us. This could be a unifying conversation, and Lord knows we need to be unified."
Besides passing gun violence legislation, Obama also listed deficit reduction and immigration as top priorities for 2013. A big deficit reduction deal with Republicans proved elusive this month, and Obama is now hoping Senate Democratic and Republican leaders salvage a scaled-back plan that avoids tax increases for virtually all Americans.
In addition, he issued a defense of former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, who has been mentioned as one of the leading candidates to replace Leon Panetta as defense secretary.
Hagel supported the 2002 resolution approving U.S. military action in Iraq, but later became a critic of the war. He has been denounced by some conservatives for not being a strong enough ally of Israel. Also, many liberals and gay activists have banded against him for comments he made in 1998 about an openly gay nominee for an ambassadorship.
Obama, who briefly served with Hagel in the Senate, stressed that he had yet to make a decision but called Hagel a "patriot."
Hagel "served this country with valor in Vietnam," the president said. "And (he) is somebody who's currently serving on my intelligence advisory board and doing an outstanding job."
Obama noted that Hagel had apologized for his 14-year-old remark on gays.